Jeff Sessions Would Like Alabama to Think Trump Can’t Push Him Around. He Just Proved That’s Wrong.

Tweeting back, Sessions repeated a major Russiagate lie.

Jeff Sessions addresses a crowd on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Mobile, Ala.AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

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President Donald Trump has been bullying Jeff Sessions for more than three years. It started in March 2017, when Sessions, weeks into his tenure as attorney general, recused himself from involvement in an FBI investigation into Trump campaign contacts with Russia. This was a legal no-brainer. Sessions was key backer and adviser to the Trump campaign. He even had his own contacts which Russian officials and was under fire for apparently lying about them in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But Trump, who has insisted with disturbing success that the Justice Department should promote his personal interests, was enraged. Trump argues that Sessions stepping aside allowed the May 2017 appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a development that led Trump to privately remark, “I’m fucked.” After Mueller launched his investigation, Trump publicly derided Sessions. The president also privately pushed for Sessions to reverse his recusal and restrict Mueller’s investigation. Mueller later said that effort may have constituted obstruction of justice.

Sessions, who was forced to resign in November 2016 and is now running to regain his former Senate seat in Alabama, has taken this punishment largely in silence. That changed Friday night, when Sessions responded to a tweet by Trump urging Alabama Republicans to back former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville over Sessions in a GOP primary. Following a July primary vote, the winner will be a favorite against Democratic incumbent Doug Jones in the conservative state.

Twelve hours later, Sessions was back at it:

Sessions has previously avoided arguing publicly with Trump about his recusal. That is likely because he wanted Trump’s support, or at least to avoid being attacked by him. Sessions’ pushback came only after a poll that showed Tuberville has opened a 23-point lead over him. He may be speaking out in part because he’s all but dead in the primary.

But Sessions, despite headlines suggesting he is standing up to Trump, is still letting Trump bully him. Sessions tweeted that his recusal led to Trump’s “exoneration.” That’s false. Mueller did not exonerate Trump of anything, as the special counsel pointedly noted in his report and congressional testimony. In fact, Mueller suggested that Trump obstructed justice by pressuring Jeff Sessions. If Sessions ever really stands up to Trump, he would say that.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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