President Trump’s latest attack on Jeff Sessions is perhaps his most stupid. Here is what Trump told the Wall Street Journal:
When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me.
So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement. But I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.
Trump’s statement is self-refuting. He had big crowds almost everywhere he went and, as he boasts, won “a lot of states by massive numbers.” Yet, Sessions was the only Senator to endorse him early.
Moreover, Sessions’ seat is safe. “Massive numbers” or not, Sessions didn’t need Trump.
Trump reportedly is looking for a new Attorney General. The same reports say he has asked advisers how hardcore conservatives will react to Sessions’ dismissal. This concern may cause him to lean towards selecting a strong conservative replacement for Sessions.
That makes sense. But if Trump is concerned about hardcore conservatives, he and his team need to focus not just on conservatism, but also on immigration. The conservatives I know who are most upset about the prospect of Sessions’ removal fear that Trump will replace him with a soft-liner on immigration. They don’t trust Trump on immigration anymore, and they trust the New Yorkers who increasingly surround him even less.
They see Sessions as a bulwark against the immigration squishes. (I see him, in addition, as a bulwark against leniency for criminals, another attitude with potential appeal to the president and his non-conservative associates.)
There’s irony here. In my opinion, Sessions endorsed Trump, not because of those “massive numbers,” but primarily because Trump took the strongest, most nationalistic line against immigration. Now, Sessions’ demise could usher in a new softness on immigration under Trump.
If Sessions falls, and I hope he will not, the hardcore conservatives I know will want a replacement who has consistently taken a line on immigration similar to that of Jeff Sessions. And they will want the replacement to continue the strong enforcement policies Sessions has instituted.
But even if they get this, the bad taste will linger. Moreover, a new AG will not be confirmed for quite some time. Without the leadership of a strong, Senate-confirmed AG, it’s likely that immigration enforcement will falter.
To the delight, perhaps, of some of the New Yorkers who have the president’s ear.