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Sessions weathers yet another Trump Twitter taunt

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is unlikely to go anywhere soon, despite ...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 2:35 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 2:35 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is unlikely to go anywhere soon, despite President Donald Trump's public and private dressing-downs.

The former Alabama senator and longtime Trump supporter is still "extraordinarily loyal" to the President, a source close to the attorney general said.

Trump's long-smoldering anger towards Sessions bubbled over once again on Wednesday, laying bare the President's chronic antipathy towards the top law enforcement official. Trump has nursed a sour relationship with Sessions ever since the attorney general recused himself from all investigations into the 2016 campaign, including special counsel Robert Mueller's expanding investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives bent on meddling in the election.

Even in the face of Trump's ire, Sessions has proved to be a key Cabinet member in effectuating Trump's policy priorities. He has steadily rolled back a bevy of Obama-era initiatives on criminal justice issues, immigration, marijuana and transgender rights, while simultaneously defending all of Trump's controversial executive orders (and tweets) in federal court. Sessions has also continually given Trump credit -- by name -- for the initiatives he pursues.

Another factor ensuring Sessions' spot atop the Justice Department: any confirmation battle for a new attorney general would be a protracted and deeply partisan fight.

The nominee would come before the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Chuck Grassley -- who defended Sessions previously -- but recently erupted in anger when the attorney general came out against a renewed effort for criminal justice reform championed by the Iowa Republican.

Justice Department leaders from previous administrations also continue to have Sessions' back. Edwin Meese III, who served as President Ronald Reagan's attorney general, penned a USA Today op-ed titled "Jeff Sessions is the most underrated member of the Trump administration."

Such works have been amplified via conservative public relations firms' email blasts, helping to reinforce Sessions among party faithful. When Trump's rage at Sessions reached a boiling point last summer, Breitbart posted a counterassault, emphasizing how "losing Sessions could endanger the administration and the split the critical coalition that helped Trump to the presidency."

While in the past Sessions has said that Trump's criticisms were "kind of hurtful," he has also made no apologies for the recusal decision, maintaining -- despite entreaties from White House officials --that it was made in consultation with career ethics officials at the Justice Department and in the works from the time he was sworn in.

"I believe I did the right thing -- the only thing I could do," Sessions told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo in an interview on Sunday. "I participated in this campaign, and as such under explicit regulations of the Department of Justice, no one can participate in the investigation of a campaign in which they were an active participant."

Trump continues to fume

That belief does not extend to the President, however, who has continually fumed in private about Sessions' decision.

Trump challenged Sessions on Wednesday to launch an investigation into the Obama administration for failing to do enough to stop the 2016 election foreign interference.

"Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren't they the subject of the investigation?" Trump tweeted. "Why didn't Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren't Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Session!"

The tweet came as no surprise to people close to Trump, who told CNN that the President's rage towards Sessions has never gone away, festering under the surface for the last few months as other issues redirected his ire.

But with the flurry of headlines surrounding the special counsel in recent days -- including Friday's indictments of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for their alleged scheme to meddle in the 2016 election -- Trump's anger towards Sessions reemerged. And the two men barely acknowledged each other when they were in the Oval Office together Tuesday afternoon for an event honoring law enforcement officials.

The fact that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who stepped in for Sessions when he recused himself, was tapped with announce Friday's indictments further fired up Trump. One person close to the President said the mere image reignited Trump's anger at Sessions.

"He will never get over Sessions recusing himself," the source said, adding that Trump's anger toward the attorney general has led him to believe that Sessions is in over his head at the Justice Department.

Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump, giving the presidential candidate a vote of confidence from the Republican establishment. During the 2016 campaign, Sessions called Trump "a leader who will bring change," and shortly after winning in November, Trump announced Sessions would be his attorney general.

Irreparably damaged

But that relationship was irreparably damaged in March 2017 when Sessions recused himself.

A month later, Trump slammed his Justice Department for offering a "watered-down" version of his travel ban. In a July 2017 interview with The New York Times, Trump said he would never have named Sessions to the top law enforcement post if he had known he was going to recuse himself.

"Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else," Trump said.

Then came the tweets.

He pestered Sessions for not looking into Hillary Clinton's deleted emails, slammed him for being "very weak" on Clinton's "crimes" and labeled him "beleaguered" in July.

The pressure on Sessions was so great during the first six months of the Trump administration that the President asked for his resignation, calling the attorney general an "idiot," but then later declined to accept Sessions' resignation letter.

A source familiar with the blow up told CNN that then-chief of staff Reince Priebus was forced to run out of the West Wing to "tap" on the window of Sessions' idling car before imploring him not to resign.

Trump's anger boiled over in June, too, when the President pushed Priebus to obtain Sessions' resignation, according sources familiar with the exchange. Priebus later said that he talked Trump out of the firing.

Even as Trump has fumed over Sessions, he has leaned on him to do more for the administration.

On Tuesday, during an event honoring first responders, Trump urged Sessions to propose regulations that would ban bump fire stocks, a gun accessory that can make it easier for semi-automatic weapons to fire like automatic weapons.

"Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns," Trump said. "I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36287

Reported Deaths: 1249
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
Bolivar41218
Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
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