This is tremendously stupid and does Sessions a terrible disservice in not acknowledging the sincerity of his ideology. The way Trump tells it here, you’d think Sessions had glommed on to him because he’s nothing more than a political frontrunner, eager to bask in the reflected glory of a more popular, charismatic politician. In reality, Sessions gambled heavily when he backed Trump. He could have made a safe play with his colleague Ted Cruz, the conservative choice; instead he went with a nationalist whom no one else in the Senate would endorse and who seemed like the longest longshot to actually become president even when he was leading Republican primary polls. It’s not an exaggeration to say that no one in America’s political class — literally no one — has been more loyal to Trumpism than Jeff Sessions has. But if Trump frankly admitted that, it would make his twisted dogging of the AG seem even more pathetic and unjust. So he has to pretend that Sessions was chasing crowds or whatever.
What makes this tremendously stupid, though, instead of routinely stupid is that Sessions had zero need to ingratiate himself with his home state’s voters by riding Trump’s coattails. He held a safe red seat in a very red state; he would have been reelected whether or not he backed Trump. It’d be like Hillary claiming that Dianne Feinstein endorsed her only because she was worried about losing her seat in, um, California if she hadn’t.
“It’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”…
“When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday, recalling the endorsement. “I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement. But I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”
“[T]here was a time when the case for Trump among many conservatives rested to a significant degree on Sessions’s support for him,” notes Jonah Goldberg. “Now, the case against Sessions rests entirely on Trump’s lack of support for the attorney general.” For hardcore Trump cultists, yeah. But for principled nationalists? I don’t know. This doesn’t bode well for Trump in the burgeoning grassroots civil war between him and Sessions:
Ann Coulter emails WashPost w/ msg for Pres. Trump: "Be a man – if you don’t want Sessions, then fire him. You’re the PRESIDENT."
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 25, 2017
Coulter to WashPost: "It’s starting to feel like Capt. Queeg. He’s screwing with Sessions? Wow, is that treacherous!"
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 25, 2017
Luther Strange, Sessions’s successor in the Senate and a candidate in the special election to replace him permanently, had to resort to blaming the media for Trump’s attacks on Sessions in order to avoid taking sides in the war:
— Sen Luther Strange (@SenatorStrange) July 25, 2017
Pathetic, but maybe his only play given the likelihood of divided loyalties in Alabama between the president and the AG. As for Trump, he stated the reason for his anger with Sessions as candidly as he could to the Journal. This cuts right to it:
“The’ve lost an election and they came up with this as an excuse,” Mr. Trump said. “And the only ones that are laughing are the Democrats and the Russians. And if Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.”
That’s what Trump believes — if only Sessions had remained in charge of the Russiagate investigation, all of the problems it’s caused him would have been solved. Why he believe this, I have no idea. It may be that Sessions would have resisted naming a special counsel after Comey was fired but the FBI still would have continued the Russia probe under the new acting director. And there’s no guarantee that Sessions himself wouldn’t have appointed a special counsel post-Comey: He would have come under heavy pressure within and outside the DOJ not to let Trump get away with trying to sideline the Russia investigation by firing the man who was in charge of it. If Sessions had gone fully into the tank for Trump by refraining from appointing Mueller and ordering the FBI to wrap up the probe while they were still following leads, he would have been shredded by critics as a political stooge operating at the president’s behest to derail any inquiry into possible campaign corruption involving Russia. He chose loyalty to the ethics of his profession over loyalty to Trump, and Trump has never forgiven him for it. He never will.
Here’s Trump last year reciting “The Snake,” a parable about the foolishness of blind trust, on the campaign trail. Sessions should have paid more attention to it.