On the long-overdue issue of immigration reform, Sessions was primed to provide leadership from within the executive branch. Any restrictionist bill was already going to be a tough legislative battle, given opposition from Republican elites, corporate America, and the media. Firing Sessions or forcing him to resign would tip the balance of power in the White House even farther away from conservatives towards the New York moderates, very likely killing any chance of immigration reform. And that, in turn, would deprive Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters of their rationale for supporting his presidency. The entire premise of the Trump campaign was that he was, in Steve Bannon’s words, a “blunt instrument” who could be used to push through restrictionist immigration reform and other needed change. The support of Sessions was the social proof of this thesis.
Instead, Trump is proving another theory correct: namely, that he is an incompetent and politically unreliable buffoon. He is not loyal to people who risk their reputations for him, and his promises are worthless. The wall isn’t going to be built, and Mexico isn’t going to pay for it.
David Frum rightly credited Ann Coulter with changing the 2016 election with her tub-thumping immigration-restrictionist book, Adios America. She followed it up with In Trump We Trust. That trust was misplaced. Trump will not be used as a blunt instrument. Rather, he is the one who used Jeff Sessions, and every other populist who supported him. Restrictionists need a new theory for how to translate their ideas into policy.