Dissing the Attorney General Lowers the President in the Eyes of His Base

By Dan Cadman on July 25, 2017

For the second time in very short order, President Trump has dissed Attorney General Jeff Sessions by Tweet (see here and here), and his newly appointed director of communications Anthony Scaramucci suggests that the president may be ready to oust Mr. Sessions.

Scaramucci may have been using this latest bit of commentary as a way of responding to political commentator and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who played down the controversy over the weekend, saying basically that "it's over, move on." Apparently not.

In the latest Tweet, the president called the attorney general "beleaguered", although as best I can tell Sessions is only beleaguered by Trump, and no one else. He also suggested that Sessions has been weak by not pursuing Hillary Clinton's improper-use-of-classified-information crimes, although in fact it was the president who, once he had won the election, walked back his campaign talk about the need to put "crooked Hillary" in jail.

It looks, at least to me, like Sessions was reasonably assuming that the president wanted to lay that issue to rest and move forward — which he may have been, until this latest fit of pique arising from his frustrations over the continuing "Russian electoral meddling" mess that has enveloped him and members of his family.

But, as has been said by many people, including Gingrich most recently, it would be a serious mistake for the president to fire Sessions or push him into resigning. Sessions wasn't just the first senator to endorse Trump, and then stick with him through thick and thin — although that's true enough. He and his former aide Stephen Miller (now an assistant to the president) were instrumental in helping the president craft and promote his pro-immigration-enforcement message, a message that was so resonant with voters that no one can seriously dispute that it was a major force in propelling him to the White House.

Sessions has also been vigorous in trying to translate that agenda into action from his position as head of the Justice Department, and it hasn't been easy given the large portion of that department occupied by Obama holdovers and the vigorously litigious nature of open borders groups who were accustomed to having their way for eight years.

Speaking for myself, I hope Sessions sticks around where he can do the most good — which is as attorney general — and weathers the storm unless actually fired by the president. Tendering his resignation would be a misfortune for the American public.

The president may think he no longer needs Sessions, but a great number of the ordinary people who constitute his base will see an outsized betrayal in jettisoning the man who has worked so tirelessly not just on behalf of Trump himself, but for the agenda that at least Sessions recognizes was what gifted to Trump the Oval Office.

If the president abandons the agenda (and one sometimes wonders how philosophically attached he is, with his occasionally unstructured forays into the "need for comprehensive immigration reform", which is and I suppose will always be code for "amnesty") he will lose his base. Time now for Trump to realize that those people voted for the agenda, not the man. Just like Sessions, he too can be replaced.

Topics: Politics