In praise of Jeff Sessions

Catherine Rampell, a knee-jerk leftist columnist for the Washington Post, writes: “How on earth did Jeff Sessions — Jeff Sessions! — find himself abandoned by the right and embraced by the left?” (Emphasis in the original). Actually, the left isn’t really embracing Sessions (Rampell certainly doesn’t) and conservatives as a group aren’t really abandoning him.

Hard-core Trumpians are very unhappy with Sessions, to be sure. And, as Rampell notes, some conservative Senators are no longer threatening to raise hell if Trump replaces the attorney general.

However, Trumpianism is not co-extensive with “the right.” And the Republican Senators who take a softer line than before against Trump firing Sessions are mainly bowing to the reality that the president is entitled to the Attorney General of his choice. They don’t want Sessions gone, but understand the difficulty of him serving indefinitely given the president’s hostility.

Conservatives whose focus is on policy are right not to want Sessions gone. He is doing an outstanding job on a wide range of issues that matter to conservatives. Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, said this:

Jeff Sessions has probably been the most effective attorney general in the eyes of law enforcement in our nation’s history. He’s done an enormous amount of work in a short period of time to bolster the rule of law and target the things that matter most to us, like high crime, violent crime, the drug addiction and opioid addiction issues.

Thompson added that if Trump fires Sessions, it will be the saddest day of his career.

Equally powerful evidence of Sessions’ conservative accomplishments comes from his critics on the left. Vanita Gupta, the hard-line leftist who ran the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Obama during the Obama administration, had this to say about Sessions:

There is no question that ― despite the humiliation that he’s enduring by Trump ― he’s been able to do a lot of things to advance his anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights agenda. Maybe that’s why he’s putting up with the blows.

That, I believe, is exactly why Sessions has put up with them. He has the opportunity to place the Justice Department, a bastion of leftism, on the right track — in terms of fighting crime, combating terrorism, enforcing the immigration laws, rolling back racial preferences, protecting religious liberties and campus free speech, etc. He has seized the opportunity.

Trump will likely replace Sessions with a loyalist hack. Ironically, that’s what he thought he was getting in Sessions. It turned out that Sessions, though not disloyal to Trump, placed his primary loyalty with the Constitution, the rule of law, traditional American values, and the ethical requirements of his job.

Sessions’ one big mistake was selecting Rod Rosenstein for the number two job. But that pales in comparison to the mistake President Trump made when he re-appointed James Comey. This inexplicable unforced error is the source of Trump’s woes.

For true conservatives, it’s tragic that these woes will lead to termination of Trump’s most effective cabinet member.