Or so many Trump supporters thought.
My first Jeff Sessions bookmark is the Jackson, Mississippi Trump rally held on August 24, 2016.
That was the one Nigel Farage spoke at. I don’t think I need to furnish any context on what he said. In my notes, I wrote:
Nigel Farage huge applause ‘message of hope and optimism’.
Jeff Sessions also spoke at that rally. So did Rudy Giuliani. Happy days.
Fast forward to the present, and Trump has had to hire Giuliani to do the PR bit of the attorney general job. Jeff Sessions recused himself from nearly everything the AG role entails.
Anyway, returning to the campaign timeframe, early in October 2016, Donald Trump’s site posted a statement from Sessions (since deleted):
By October 14, the Billy Bush Access Hollywood video had appeared. In an interview, Sessions rightly told the neverTrump Weekly Standard that, contrary to what anti-Trumpers said, the candidate’s words did not constitute sexual assault. That caused even more outrage. Yellowhammer News reported (emphases mine):
Now, a radical, far-left feminist group known as UltraViolet is promoting a petition that calls for Senator Sessions’ removal from the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. So far, the petition has gained over 40,000 signatures. It’s actually a low number compared to other outrage-based campaigns the group has waged …
UltraViolet is headed-up by Nita Chaudhary and Kat Barr, two former high-level political directors of the liberal attack machine MoveOn.org. Like MoveOn, UltraViolet is also funded by liberal mastermind billionaire George Soros. (The same guy who also donated at least $6 million to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, $1 million to Planned Parenthood, $650,000 to Black Lives Matter, just to name a few.)
After the election, Trump’s transition site posted great news on November 18 (now deleted):
President-Elect Donald J. Trump Selects U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
We liked this support for Sessions on November 21 (also deleted):
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… Civil Rights & Law Enforcement Groups Are Strongly Supporting Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
Meanwhile, the Left — Democrats and media — tried to assassinate Sessions’s character, which they thought would be easy since he is from Alabama. Trump supporters responded with the truth:
On November 22, Lame Cherry proposed a solution which included not only the Left but also the GOPe and other conservative neverTrumpers:
Steve Bannon, the Chief Adviser to President Donald Trump is intent on crafting the Trump Image, but is failing miserably in that presentation, because his vision, is being blinded by a media conspiracy, which is absolutely criminal, and in that what is going to be required by another investigative division of the FBI under Attorney General Jeff Sessions are criminal indicts brought against all of those involved …
Arrest Leslie Stahl, Martha Raditz, Glenn Beck, Eric Erickson, Jonah Goldberg, William Kristol for starters, and embark on a most rigorous interrogation, so that when these media terrorists against Americans break, their confessions and those they implicate will follow up the food chain, to the real despots in this in the George Soros group to be hauled before the People’s Court for full redress and penalty.
Early in 2017, Trump supporters enjoyed seeing videos old and new of the proposed attorney general: the Senate swearing-in ceremony when he swatted then vice president Joe Biden’s hand away from his granddaughter (see 2:49 onwards), his AG confirmation hearing when he said he never disagrees with his wife then remembered being under oath (his wife is always correct) and his verbal battle with now-resigned senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) during the AG confirmation hearing.
We were pleased to read this news from the Associated Press on February 1:
BREAKING: Senate Judiciary Committee approves nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be attorney general.
One of the final speeches in favour of Sessions as AG came on February 8:
Tim Scott, a black Republican senator from South Carolina, explains why he supports Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States. He then proceeds to read the hate tweets he receives on Twitter.
I wish I could upvote this a million times! That was absolutely incredible! That speech was well researched, seamlessly put together, and eloquently delivered with absolute conviction and respect. I am now even happier than before that Sen. Jeff Sessions has been made our new Attorney General. God bless America! Let’s Make America Great Again!
Everyone had high hopes that Sessions would bust Pizzagate wide open. (If you don’t know what that is, this recent thread is a good starting point.) Even I wrote about it. The date of his swearing-in ceremony — February 9 — seemed significant in this regard:
… Jeff Sessions is scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is NATIONAL PIZZA DAY …
However, while paedophile arrests under Sessions have been significantly higher than any during the Obama administration, we should have paid closer attention to what he said at his swearing-in:
Moments ago at his swearing-in ceremony, Jeff Sessions called for a renewed commitment to enforcing immigration law.
This has been a big Sessions issue for some time. This Breitbart article from 2015 explains his roadmap for the Republican Party on the subject. It makes perfect sense, but it fits better with Homeland Security than the Department of Justice:
I am opposed to any immigration policy which makes it harder for the unemployed to find jobs and easier for employers to keep pay low. If by “immigration reform,” you mean helping the unemployed return to the workforce, limiting work visas so wages can rise, and establishing firm control over entry and exit in the United States, then I am for it. Which do you mean?
We didn’t pay attention. We were still thinking about Pizzagate, as this thread from The_Donald shows:
MIDDAY MAGA: SESHBABY IS HERE! SESSIONS, YUSS!
♥ Sessions was sworn in as our new Attorney General – ON NATIONAL PIZZA DAY, NO LESS!
(You can’t make this up, folks!)
Two weeks later, he disagreed with education secretary Betsy DeVos on transgender issues. On February 22, Politico reported:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly pushed for a cautious approach on the polarizing issue of transgender student protections — but was overruled by a White House and attorney general who preferred a swift removal of Obama-era protections.
We supported Sessions.
On March 2, Sessions announced his first recusal. CBS reported:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations involving the Trump campaign, he announced at a Thursday afternoon press conference after consulting with Justice Department lawyers about his role in investigations into Russian contacts by Trump campaign associates …
Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, has now come up in several communications with President Trump’s associates, officials say, as administration officials look into contact between his team and Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for instance, has come under fire after it became known Thursday night that he had two contacts with Kislyak during the presidential campaign, Justice Department officials confirmed to CBS News, following an initial report by The Washington Post. Sessions didn’t disclose his two conversations with Kisylak during his Senate confirmation process and it’s unclear what they discussed in their private conversation.
“Well, I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign,” Sessions said Thursday. “And those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false. And I don’t have anything else to say about that.”
The Washington Post had published selectively edited parts of his confirmation hearing. Of course, this would have to involve his exchange with the aforementioned Al Franken. The image below comes from The_Donald:
Naturally, Democrats wanted him to resign.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) tweeted:
To reduce divisiveness in our country & increase people’s faith in Dept of Justice, best if
#Sessions resigns. Sooner the better.
Top Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Elijah Cummins and Sen. Elizabeth Warren promptly called for Sessions to resign. Conversations with the Russian ambassador and later obfuscation on the topic already cost one high-level Trump official his job — and those false statements were not made under oath. Sessions signalled Thursday morning he might be willing to recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the campaign, as top Republicans joined calls for him to recuse himself.
The White House, meanwhile, dismissed the controversy as a partisan attack by Democrats.
Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not….
…intentional. This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed…..
to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election and now they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total witch hunt!
That might have been one of the first times Trump wrote ‘witch hunt’ in connection with Russian collusion.
On March 3, Tucker Carlson of Fox News asked if the Democrats’ request for a Russia probe was more about politics than fact-finding:
Tucker takes on Democrat who attempts to make a case for an investigation into allegations Russia interfered in the 2016 election and argues that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign
A week later, The Guardian reported that Sessions had asked for the resignation of US attorneys from the Obama administration to resign. They admitted this is normal practice for a new presidential administration, but, of course, they had to add ‘not automatic’.
I remember when Clinton’s Janet ‘Waco’ Reno asked for US attorneys’ resignations as soon as she got her feet under the desk. I wasn’t the only one. Reno sacked even more in 1993 (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse):
— Νia☆Jobs☆Jobs☆Jobs (@nia4_trump) March 10, 2017
Apparently, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) forgot that inconvenient fact. The Guardian quoted her:
“I’m surprised to hear that President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have abruptly fired all 46 remaining US attorneys,” she said. “In January, I met with Vice-President Pence and White House Counsel Donald McGahn and asked specifically whether all US attorneys would be fired at once.
“Mr McGahn told me that the transition would be done in an orderly fashion to preserve continuity. Clearly this is not the case. I’m very concerned about the effect of this sudden and unexpected decision on federal law enforcement.”
The Daily Caller’s Kevin Daley put things in perspective and included a statement from DoJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores in his tweet:
INBOX: Jeff Sessions has asked all Obama-era U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignation. This is standard practice during a transition.
On March 11, Preet Bharara, the powerful US attorney from the southern district of New York, refused to resign. The Justice Department sacked him:
I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.
We do not know if Sessions or someone else pulled the plug, but Bharara was not a happy man. The Guardian reported:
Bharara, 48, met with Trump late last year, however, and told reporters afterward that he had “agreed to stay on”.
“The president-elect asked,” Bharara said at the time, “presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years, asked to met with me to discuss whether or not I’d be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work we have done, independently, without fear or favor for the last seven years.
“We had a good meeting,” he added. “I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on. I have already spoken to Senator Sessions, who as you know is the nominee for attorney general. He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the southern district.”
The White House referred questions about the firing to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a call or email. A press officer for the southern district of New York did not answer several questions from the Guardian. “We’ll decline to comment,” the officer said.
Judge Jeanine said that all of them were asked to submit letters of resignation, but Trump ended up NOT accepting two of them. So they gave him their letters, but Trump asked two to stay on. She said Preet was offended by receiving the letter, so then he created a big to-do about it and said Trump would have to fire him. Trump did NOT ask him to stay on. So it almost sounds like there could have been some 4D chess going on on Trump and/or Session’s part.
Amazingly, on March 13, The Federalist posted an article by a lawyer, Benjamin Wetmore, who says that Sessions will have to do more than worry about immigration and MS-13. He will need to clean up the DoJ.
This turned out to be incredibly prescient:
Former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) says … “the administration was abusing the Department of Justice to bankrupt, harass, and punish many of Obama’s political opponents.” At one point, Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) was actively investigating one-third of GOP governors. The Office of Congressional Ethics “investigated” 30 GOP congressmen, then DOJ investigated at least a dozen. Some familiar names were pushed out of office during this process that was costly, grueling, accusatory, and fraught with personal and professional peril.
That is exactly what is happening with Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. And Jeff Sessions recused himself!
The article describes how the abuse works. Again, consider Mueller’s investigation, which works on a similar basis:
The process was a quiet killer. A wildly inaccurate local news story would become the basis for an anonymous complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, which was set up by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and is staffed by former federal prosecutors who then investigated, continually broadening the scope of their investigation. Those who cooperate give information that could justify witch hunts, and those who refuse are eventually bankrupted by legal fees.
This package of information is then referred to DOJ, which starts a completely new investigation into unrelated information, using the evidence OCE collected. Every email, phone call, campaign donation, and piece of data could be used to subpoena, harass, and intimidate donors, family members, and even the attorneys of members of Congress.
I know, because I was one of the attorneys swept into this dragnet of abuse. I received a subpoena that asked for 6.5 years of all documents related to 27 different entities and clients, including all emails, and even commanding me to recollect every conversation and word uttered in private, in confidence, across these years and entities. The subpoena covered things spoken to a legal client by his or her attorney.
There is a question mark over who exactly advised Sessions to recuse himself. I wonder whether the persuasion process went like this:
The advice most of these people received, it’s also worth noting, was from federal criminal defense attorneys who are usually former federal prosecutors. The entire judicial system is composed to an overwhelming extent by people who were cultivated in a prosecution mindset. So they think everyone is guilty of everything, and your rights and privileges under the Constitution are inconvenient impediments to their work.
The following explains why Trump supporters are growing angry with Sessions over his inability to deal with the Mueller probe. Surely, by now, he could unrecuse and tell Mueller he’s ready to call time:
The legal process is often its own punishment, and the prosecutors clearly know it. They win either way. Subpoenas can go out to donors, friends, staffers, and campaign volunteers, and it sends a powerful message even if a defendant prevails. Prosecutors can make these “investigations” drag on for years. One federal lawyer described it as a “gigantic Inquisition machine.” Just on campaign finance issues alone, prosecutions could last years since few who fill out such forms fully understand them, the accounting terms used, and the legal consequences of small mistakes.
Most people following the Mueller investigation say he is out to find ‘process crimes’ — ‘the legal consequences of small mistakes’.
The Federalist’s article says that Sessions must root this out of the DoJ:
New U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently that he’s open to having an outside prosecutor look into certain known abuses of the Obama Justice Department, including giving guns to Mexican drug cartels as part of Fast and Furious, and the well-known Internal Revenue Service intimidation of conservative groups. But many more scandals have been unreported, and are often hidden behind the silence of defendants who did nothing wrong but worry about the presumption of guilt that comes with complaining about such outrage …
If Sessions needs a list of whom within DOJ to start investigating, I’ve got one, as do dozens of current and former conservative congressmen. There’s a lot more internal corruption at Justice than what is already known.
No one knows if Sleepy is doing anything about this. His supporters claim he’s beavering away quietly behind the scenes. His detractors say he’s napping.
In any event, it seems unlikely he was concerned about DoJ corruption at that point.
On March 27, he was trying to get tough with sanctuary cities. The Washington Times reported:
The Trump administration officially put sanctuary cities on notice Monday that they are violating federal laws and could lose access to billions of dollars in Justice Department grants if they continue to thwart efforts to deport illegal immigrants …
But Mr. Sessions didn’t say when he would actually start withholding money, making his announcement more signal than substance — and leaving Democrats to argue he was trying to change the subject from White House controversies and the failed Obamacare repeal effort on Capitol Hill.
Trump supporters should have started seeing an emerging pattern then. But, no, we liked him too much.
He wrote on a similar theme — policing — for USA Today on April 17:
The Department of Justice agrees with the need to rebuild public confidence in law enforcement through common-sense reforms, such as de-escalation training, and we will punish any police conduct that violates civil rights. But such reforms must promote public safety and avoid harmful federal intrusion in the daily work of local police …
Our first priority must be to save lives, restore public safety, and bring back the community policing that we know works. To help achieve those goals, the department, with the help of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, will focus our efforts on thwarting violent crime, drug trafficking, and gun crime and gang violence. If combating violent crime and restoring public safety are seen as dramatic reversals, then I fully support such a sea change.
How many times have Americans heard that before? What tired, stale statements.
Again, most of us still didn’t see the pattern. We continued to defend Sessions, including the time he called Hawaii ‘an island in the Pacific’. On April 20, the Washington Examiner reported Sessions’s view of the opposition to Trump’s travel ban:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that he’s “amazed” a federal judge from “an island in the Pacific,” specifically Hawaii, could block President Trump’s immigration order.
“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions said on the Mark Levin Show Wednesday night.
Still on immigration, Sessions visited the border with Mexico that day. Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly — now chief of staff — accompanied him.
Going through these news items shows me that if Trump supporters — myself included — thought we were going to see any arrests of politicians and clean-up of the DoJ, we were sorely mistaken.
Sleepy’s recusals of March and June, which even Trump claims he didn’t know about, have also had a highly negative impact on his performance as attorney general.
More to come on Sessions soon, with a focus on his summer of 2017, a turning point.