I declare, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, where shall you go, whatever shall you do?
Frankly, my dear, Donald Trump doesn’t give a damn.
On Tuesday, the president again lambasted Jeff Sessions, tweeting that the attorney general “has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” This was a day after he referred to Sessions as “our beleaguered A.G.” Even Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, said in a Tuesday interview, that it’s “probably right” to assume that his boss wants Sessions out before he added, “I don’t want to speak for the president.” The Mooch doesn’t have to — Trump is speaking plenty by himself.
Trump’s Twitter tantrums come a week after he excoriated Sessions during a New York Times interview for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Had he known Sessions would do that, “I would have picked somebody else” as attorney general, Trump said.
Now Sessions has the hangdog countenance of a man who knows the end is near. Names of equally terrible replacements, like Senator Ted Cruz, are already popping up all over the place, and that’s so Trump – shopping for the next warm body before he has officially filed for divorce. In his first public comments after Trump’s Times interview, Sessions didn’t exactly present a strong case when asked if he would leave: “We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so, as long as that is appropriate.”
Translation: Until his position becomes too untenable, or Trump just straight up dumps him.
Sessions is marching toward the abyss, but he never saw it coming. Early in the campaign when Trump’s candidacy was as welcome as a swarm of hornets at a picnic, there was Sessions with a “Make America Great Again” cap perched on his head, standing shoulder to elbow with Trump at his raucous rallies. He was the first senator to wholeheartedly endorse Trump, and he helped mold the fledging candidate’s combative, discriminatory rhetoric around immigration and law enforcement. He gave that campaign a whiff of legitimacy, and however abhorrent Sessions’ political views, the blessings of a US senator offered Trump a toehold in the GOP establishment.
For his own loyalty, Sessions likely expected the same from Trump, but this is where he got it all twisted. If Trump felt any debt to Sessions, it ended when he chose the former Alabama senator to head the Justice Department. After that, it was Sessions who would always need to prove his unwavering devotion to Trump, even if it meant obstructing justice. For the president, that devotion was forever shattered when Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation.
Even Rush Limbaugh has called the president’s actions against Sessions “a little bit discomforting, unseemly for Trump to go after such a loyal supporter this way,”
For Trump, loyalty is a one-way street. He demands it, expects it, but is loyal only to those closest to him, like Don Jr., Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner. He never hesitates to come to their defense when their suspect behavior is publicly questioned. Sessions, however, is neither family nor a fundamental cog in the Trump machine like staff schemers Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller. He has outlived his usefulness to Trump and is being destroyed 140 characters at a time.
Sessions, who lied under oath about his own Russian connections during his confirmation hearings, was always unfit to be attorney general. The Democrats had no power to ditch him; instead, that act will fall to the man who once called Sessions “an adviser, friend, and ally.” Soon Sessions, a Southerner who knows all about lost causes, will be removed just like one of those dusty old statues of his Confederate heroes whose names he carries and has again brought low in defeat and disgrace.Renée Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.