And … why doesn’t he? Alberto Gonzales, one of Jeff Sessions predecessors as Attorney General, tells Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s New Day that Donald Trump won’t be able to push Sessions out of the job through passive-aggressive tweeting. Gonzales, who resigned himself over the handling of terminations of US Attorneys during the George W. Bush administration, says Trump should really be happy with Sessions’ performance — but if he’s not, it’s incumbent on the president to take ownership of the situation:
Asked if Jeff Sessions should resign after public demeaning from Trump, fmr AG Alberto Gonzales says he has any attorney's "dream job": "I don't think he wants to leave his position … I think he's going to continue to take this pummeling until the President actually fires him" pic.twitter.com/bHdyXUgmUh
— New Day (@NewDay) May 31, 2018
“Jeff Sessions did the absolute right thing in recusing himself,” Gonzales tells Camerota, and “he’s carrying out the president’s objectives in the law-enforcement arena.” Why Trump keeps undermining him while keeping Sessions in place is beyond Gonzales’ comprehension. “At the end of the day,” Gonzales notes, “the president can remove the Attorney General or any other Cabinet official for any reason or for no reason.” Keeping a wounded Sessions on board, especially when Trump is doing the wounding, is somewhat inexplicable to Gonzales.
It’s not entirely inexplicable, however, and Gonzales has a good sense of why Sessions isn’t getting fired. He won’t get replaced, at least not in this session of Congress:
Despite the withering complaints, Trump appears to comprehend the potential consequences of firing Sessions and seems resigned to the idea that he’s stuck with him for the time being, according to nearly a dozen people close to the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The case that Sessions’ protectors have outlined to Trump time and again largely consists of three components: Firing Sessions, a witness in Mueller’s investigation of obstruction of justice, would add legal peril to his standing in the Russia probe; doing so would anger the president’s political base, which Trump cares deeply about, especially with midterm election looming this fall; and a number of Republican senators would rebel against the treatment of a longtime colleague who was following Justice Department guidelines in his recusal.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has said that he will not schedule a confirmation hearing for another attorney general nominee if Sessions is fired.
That would make Rod Rosenstein the next acting Attorney General, a man who may be even more untouchable than Sessions while the Mueller probe continues. Trump would have to fire them both to get someone to bench Mueller, setting up immediate parallels to the Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal. It would give immediate momentum to impeachment talk and would likely ruin GOP chances in the midterms.
No less an authority on Trump than Newt Gingrich says Trump won’t fire Sessions, at least not for a long while:
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a Trump ally, said last July he would oppose firing Sessions because of his vigorous implementation of the conservative agenda. But in an interview Wednesday, Gingrich said Sessions was “not doing his job” and was applying his recusal too broadly.
“I’m now convinced that without a new attorney general, we have no hope of getting to the bottom of this, so in that sense, I think the president is right,” Gingrich said. “But I think he also recognizes, and everybody reminds him, he couldn’t get anybody approved by the Senate right now.”
If that’s the case, then Trump should give the public beatings a rest. It makes him look impotent and small, not the most powerful man in the free world. Fish or cut bait, man, as Gonzales hints.