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Jeff Sessions sworn in as U.S. attorney general

Jeff Sessions has been sworn in as Donald Trump's attorney general as the U.S president signed three new executive actions including an order for the Justice Department to tackle "criminal cartels."

Donald Trump signs new executive actions on criminal justice, tackling 'criminal cartels'

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accompanied by his wife Mary, after he was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Jeff Sessions has been sworn in as U.S. President Donald Trump's attorney general.

During an Oval Office ceremony, Trump called the veteran senator from Alabama a man of integrity and principle, and someone who has devoted his life to the cause of justice.

Jeff Sessions takes the oath in the Oval Office 1:22

Sessions was sworn in the morning after the Senate confirmed his nomination following a contentious confirmation process. Sessions resigned his Senate seat shortly after his colleagues approved him on a 52-47 vote that broke largely along partisan lines.

Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump. He faced criticism from Democrats over his record on civil rights and immigration.

"His record raises doubts about whether he can be a champion for those who need this office most and it also raises doubts about whether he can curb unlawful overreach" by the president, Senator Tim Kaine said earlier. 

Republicans lauded his four decades of public service and his commitment to fairness and the rule of law.

"He's honest. He's fair. He's been a friend to many of us, on both sides of the aisle," said Senator Mitch McConnell. "This is a well-qualified colleague with a deep reverence for the law."

Also on Thursday morning, Trump signed three executive actions related to criminal justice, including an order to have the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to tackle "criminal cartels" that have spread across the nation.

Trump announced the executive actions as Sessions was sworn in. 

"These dangerous times require a determined attorney general," Trump said. 

Trump said the plan will attempt to break the backs of criminal cartels. He's also asked for a task force to reduce violent crime in America and a plan to stop violent crimes against law enforcement officers.

Tom Price is a staunch advocate of repealing Barack Obama's health care overhaul and scaling back the Medicare and Medicaid programs. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Next up for the Senate is Representative Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia and Trump's pick for health secretary. A final vote on Price could come late Thursday and success seemed certain.

Democrats have solidly opposed Price, a staunch advocate of repealing Barack Obama's health-care overhaul and reshaping and scaling back the Medicare and Medicaid programs that provide health care to older and low-income people.

But they've mostly accused Price, a wealthy former orthopedic surgeon, of conflicts of interest by acquiring stocks in health care companies and pushing legislation that could help those firms.

They've especially targeted his acquisition of shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech firm that's said Price got a special insider's deal. Price, who has said he learned of the opportunity from a fellow lawmaker, Rep. Chris Collins, had testified to Congress that the shares were available to all investors.

"If I were a prosecutor, I'd say this case has real potential," Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, said Wednesday.

Jeff Sessions denied having communications with the Russians during Trump's campaign's at his Jan.10 confirmation hearing 1:13