Jeff Sessions' bum rap
Rumors of Jeff Sessions' supposedly imminent firing have been floating through media and political circles for months. But it now really does seem like President Trump's beleaguered attorney general could see himself booted after the midterm elections.
Sessions has been the president's favorite punching bag since the former Alabama senator — and Trump's earliest and most fervent congressional supporter — recused himself from the Department of Justice's investigation into Russian interference in America's 2016 election, paving the way for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation. Trump has clearly never forgiven Sessions for this. Nor has Trump's base, which has made the attorney general a prime target of their fury.
This anger towards Sessions is utterly unwarranted. He should not be held directly responsible for the Mueller investigation. It would have been politically untenable for him to do anything other than what he did.
Meanwhile, the attorney general remains the most loyal Cabinet member to Trump's MAGA agenda. Why can't Trump's supporters see that?
A President Jeb! Bush or Marco Rubio would have never appointed Sessions, who as a fervent immigration restrictionist and staunch conservative, finds himself on the outside of squishy Republican cliques. This makes Sessions an outlier in Trump's Cabinet, which is otherwise filled with people who not only hold views that are counter to Trump's campaign promises, but also surreptitiously (and sometimes openly) attack, leak, and sabotage the president they supposedly serve under. Chief of Staff John Kelly basically told the press that Trump's opinion on immigration was uninformed. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley ignored Trump's budget proposal and promised more aid to Syrian refugees. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue advocated for a new visa program to import hundreds of thousands of new farm workers. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen invited foreign nationals claiming to be refugees to come to the U.S. Former economic advisor Gary Cohn literally stole papers off Trump's desk to prevent him from signing them.
Compare that undermining and subterfuge to the loyal service of Jeff Sessions.
On Trump's campaign promise to curtail illegal immigration, no one has been working harder than Sessions. He directed U.S. attorneys at the border to take whatever immediate action is necessary to prosecute undocumented immigrants, and also went on a hiring spree, adding 300 prosecutors and 44 immigration judges to tackle the backlog of illegal entries.
Sessions' work to stop illegal immigration doesn't end at the border. In July 2018, Sessions added new restrictions on asylum seekers arriving in the U.S. because they faced "credible fear" back in their home country. (The Obama administration had reduced the "credible fear" threshold back in 2009, which led to a 1,675 percent increase in the number of people claiming asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.)
Immigration isn't the only area where Sessions is trying to fulfill Trump's policy goals. On the opioid crisis, the attorney general has put transnational gangs that funnel opioids from Mexico to the U.S. in his crosshairs. Sessions formed a taskforce in mid-October and designated MS-13, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, Sinaloa Cartel, Can del Golfo, and Lebanese Hezbollah as transnational organized criminal groups. The taskforce plans to combine government agencies' resources to disrupt drug traffickers and human smugglers.
Aside from immigration and gangs, Sessions has tackled affirmative action by going after Harvard's discriminatory practices against Asian-American applicants, created a religious liberty taskforce to ensure that First Amendment rights aren't trampled on, and became the highest-ranking member of Trump's Cabinet to speak against activist judges and judicial encroachment.
Despite all his work, Sessions is one of the least popular members of Trump's administration, especially among Republicans. Their blind hatred for Hillary Clinton and anger that Sessions didn't "lock her up" or end the Russia investigation has produced rage from the base. Republicans calling on Trump to fire Sessions have lost sight of the fact that the attorney general is one of the few people in the executive branch fighting for the MAGA agenda.
Without Sessions, Trump's administration would just have one more establishment Republican actively working to stop everything his supporters voted for. Is that really what they want?