Most of us understand, I think, that President Trump lacks class and self-discipline. Still, I would not have expected him to rip Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General, in an interview with the New York Times, of all organs.
If Trump is this unhappy with Sessions, then fire him. Or accept his resignation, which Sessions reportedly offered after the last time Trump popped off about him.
But don’t whine to Maggie freaking Haberman.
Trump complains that he wouldn’t have nominated Sessions if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. He says Sessions should have told him of his intent to recuse before taking the job, so he could have nominated someone else.
But at the time of his nomination, Sessions had no idea that circumstances would arise that might cause his recusal. The recusal decision stems from testimony Sessions gave during his confirmation hearing, and thus after his nomination. Sessions mistakenly testified that he hadn’t met with Russian officials. It turned out that he had met with the Russian ambassador.
There is no reason to believe that Sessions intentionally misstated the facts, a point we and others have made. However, his encounters with the Russian ambassador and his mistaken denial of any such contacts led him to conclude that the Russia investigation might come to involve him as a witness or player. Thus, after conferring with ethics experts at the DOJ, he made the honorable decision to recuse himself, as we would expect from this honorable man.
Sessions could have withdrawn after he realized that he had given mistaken testimony at his confirmation hearing. But I’m pretty sure most of us would have been unhappy if he had. Moreover, he apparently didn’t decide he needed to recuse himself until after he was confirmed and the ethics advisers at DOJ recommended that he do so.
Nor did Sessions have any reason to believe that his recusal might hurt President Trump. Sessions did not know that Trump’s actions would lead to such strong calls for a special counsel. He must have thought there is nothing to claims of Trump collusion with the Russians and that the DOJ’s investigation would so conclude, with or without his involvement.
Was Sessions’ honorable decision to recuse himself the right decision, given the dishonorable milieu of contemporary Washington, D.C.? Reasonable people can disagree about this. However, I see no reasonable defense of Trump publicly trashing his Attorney General.
I agree with this statement by Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government:
Jeff Sessions is the best Attorney General President Trump could have. He is doing the difficult job of unwinding the politicized mess left behind by his Obama appointed predecessors.
Rather than turning a blind eye, Attorney General Sessions is cracking down on illegal immigration, deporting MS-13 gang members and other illegal alien criminals, and ending the war on police.
Sessions’ recusal on matters related to the 2016 campaign and the Russia investigation, while perhaps unnecessary, underscores his commitment to the restoring the rule of law, which after the Obama administration’s abuse of power was sorely needed and was one of Trump’s key campaign promises. Any attempt to remove him from office at this stage would be a catastrophic mistake.
If the President expects the American people to stand by him in the months ahead on the tough road to draining the swamp, he must stand by those who have stood with him. Not only is Jeff Sessions an outstanding Attorney General, as the first Senator to endorse Trump, he is one of the major reasons Trump did solidly in the south during the GOP primary.
He should prefer that Sessions continue running 99 percent of the Justice Department while the Russia investigation wraps up than to turn over 100 percent of DOJ to the deep state for the months or year that it would take to confirm a new Attorney General through a Senate that is, in many respects, still Democratic Party controlled.