Jeff Sessions Enters Alabama Senate Race With Obsequious Trump Praise

Jeff Sessions entered the race for the GOP nomination for Senate in Alabama by heaping obsequious and pathetic praise on a man who had spent two years insulting him publicly and privately

As reported yesterday, former Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions entered the race for the Republican Senate nomination in Alabama with a campaign video that expressed obsequious support for a man who spent the better part of two years insulting and belittling him before finally firing him as he had threatened to do in the past:

Jeff Sessions formally announced on Thursday that he was entering the Senate race in Alabama, a decision that will likely put him on a collision course with President Trump, who still harbors resentment toward the former attorney general a year after forcing him from office.

In a statement issued just after 8 p.m., Mr. Sessions took pains to signal that he had remained loyal to the president despite their differences. “When I left President Trump’s cabinet, did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the president. No. Have I said a cross word about President Trump? No,” the statement said. “I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again.”

The announcement came after several weeks of public leaks and private maneuvering during which the former attorney general tested the waters about running for what would be his fifth term in the Senate. He gave up his seat in 2017 after Mr. Trump nominated him and the Senate confirmed him.

But their relationship soon soured as Mr. Sessions, an adviser to Mr. Trump’s first presidential campaign, decided to recuse himself from overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump and his associates worked illegally with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump has never forgiven Mr. Sessions, who was the first member of the Senate to endorse his presidential bid.

In his first televised interview since leaving office, Mr. Sessions told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Thursday that he had no regrets about the recusal. “I did the thing I had to do under the rules of the Department of Justice,” he said, acknowledging, “I know how painful this was for the president.” He added that he has not yet spoken with Mr. Trump about his Senate campaign but hopes to.

Because Mr. Trump has an almost imperial hold on the Republican Party, Mr. Trump’s dislike could make for a rough road ahead for Mr. Sessions. Republicans who find themselves in Mr. Trump’s political cross hairs rarely fare well with their party’s voters. And the president has sent word to the former attorney general through allies that he would publicly attack him if he went ahead with the campaign.

But Mr. Sessions, 72, has been an admired figure in Alabama Republican politics for four decades and, by many accounts, remains popular there despite the withering scorn Mr. Trump has leveled at him. Among other insults, Mr. Trump has accused Mr. Sessions of betrayal and of being a “total joke” of a leader at the Justice Department. More recently, the president has referred to him as a “jerk” in private conversations.

On the issues, at least, there are few Republicans who are as committed to Mr. Trump’s approach. Mr. Sessions was often a lone voice in the Senate arguing to restrict immigration and rescind global free trade agreements. His opposition to immigration reform, in fact, came years before Mr. Trump’s conversion on the issue.

In his Fox interview on Thursday night, Mr. Sessions tried to remind people that he was a true believer in these policies long before Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. “I was for this agenda before President Trump announced.”

Here’s the video that Sessions released on Twitter, which some have likened to a hostage video:

Sessions also appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show at roughly the same time that the tweet above was posted, and he was equally as obsequious toward the President:

Sessions’ obsequiousness toward the President is notable given the fact that the respect that he appears to be showing the President is obviously not mutual and that the President seems unlikely to return the favor. Even while he was still serving as Attorney General, Trump’s contempt for the person who was one of his earliest and most powerful supporters in Congress was an open secret in Washington. To a large part, Trump’s disdain for Sessions was rooted in the fact that he had recused himself from the Russia investigation due to his involvement with the Trump campaign, but there also seemed to be a truly vindictive personal nature to the attacks. It was widely reported, for example, that the President mocked Sessions’ southern accent and called him “Mr. Magoo” behind his back. Trump continued these attacks on Sessions long after he had left office as Attorney General, and all but claimed that Sessions himself was part of the alleged “Deep State” conspiracy that the President claims was arrayed against him.

Like any other man subjected to such attacks, one would expect that Jeff Sessions would hold a grudge against the President not just for firing him, but also for the public and private personal abuse that he suffered. This abuse came not just from the President, but also from supporters like Steve Bannon, who once suggested that having graduated from the University of Alabama shows that Sessions was too stupid to get into a “real” school like Georgetown or the University of Pennsylvania, the alma maters of Bannon and Trump respectively.

Instead of giving any indication of holding such a grudge, though, Sessions looked as obsequious as Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul in his video and Fox News Channel appearance last night. It is understandable, I suppose. Sessions wants to win the nomination for the Senate in Alabama, after all, and while he has his own record as a Senator to fall back on it’s clear that any candidate in the Republican Party that indicates that there is even the slightest bit of daylight between them and the President is going to receive the wrath of Trump supporters. This is especially true in a solidly red state like Alabama, where the President won by 600,000 votes in 2016. As with so many other signs, this is yet further confirmation that, as James Joyner and myself have said in the past that the Republican Party is Trump’s party now, and that even a man who endured two years of personal insults and attacks at the hands of the President is willing to bow down to him to get back to the Senate. It’s really quite pathetic.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Trump, being the sadist he is, will delight in attacking Sessions, even if it costs the Rs a senate seat. Eighty percent of Cult45 hates Sessions–solely because Trump demeaned him.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    Re your headline, well of course he did. What else would a self absorbed GOP politician seeking election do? Jeffy Jeff is an arsehole, he’s not stupid, as evidenced by his recusing himself from committing obstruction of justice as Att’y Gen’l.

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  3. Kit says:

    Am I missing something? It seems that the ads against Sessions in Trump-loving country simply write themselves. I see a series of billboards with Trump saying to Sessions:
    * You betrayed me and your country!
    * You’re a “total joke”!
    * You’re a jerk!

    And should Sessions win the primary, those same billboards can stay up for the general election. Hell, if someone were to launch a kickstarter campaign, I’d be willing to chip in a few bucks to keep them up year round.

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  4. Kathy says:

    It’s all about the white “Christian” supremacy.

    If that means eating Trump’s orange s**t and engaging in self-abasement, then so be it. the others will have it much worse.

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  5. Slugger says:

    This looks like battered wife syndrome to me; I don’t get it, but it is a real thing. Likewise, when Ted Cruz simply allowed Trump to insult his father and his wife. Trump has been very successful in finding people who respond to insults with genuflection. This might be Trump’s greatest talent.

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  6. Scott F. says:

    Is it pathetic or pathological? Here’s a seasoned politician willing to dance, in abject humiliation, at the end of strings being pulled by a reality-show host and real estate grifter.

    I am still amazed at the hold Trumpism has over Republicans. Politically or personally, what is the end game for these people who are so willing to compromise whatever principles they might have and so quick to destroy all vestiges of their credibility in service of this cretin and his rabid fans? They are going to go down with this clown? And for what?

    Oh, and Sessions opens his re-election pitch with epic level gaslighting by claiming it’s the left that’s “unhinged.” If it were fiction, no one would believe it

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  7. CSK says:

    @Slugger: I think it’s that they’re more terrified of Cult45. Trump does have one great talent, and that’s for manipulating an angry, gullible mob of people who feel they’ve been screwed by the “elites,” Republican and Democratic, and are determined to avenge themselves for past slights. Trump = Savior.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So who will Alabamans pick to run against boring as hell Doug Jones?

    The emasculated Garden gnome?
    The loser football coach?
    The religious nut job who preyed on teenage girls with Daddy issues?

    So many choices, I can almost feel the excitement in the air!

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  9. CSK says:

    Just checked over at Lucienne.com to see what’s being said about Sessions. I found out that he’s actually a “Deep State Anti-Trumper.”

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Trump does have one great talent, and that’s for manipulating an angry, gullible mob of people who feel they’ve been screwed by the “elites,” Republican and Democratic

    It’s good to point out that Trumpsky ran against Republican elites as much as against Dem elites. Ds certainly ought to be able to run against Republican elites.

    What makes Trump’s control of the base crucial is that this angry base is the ONLY path to election for GOPs. (Supported, of course, with piles of money.) Meanwhile, I expect Cruz and Cotton and the rest have learned from Trump how to hold the base.

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  11. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: And the best way to hold the base is by fawning over Trump.

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  12. Matt says:

    @Slugger:

    Likewise, when Ted Cruz simply allowed Trump to insult his father and his wife.

    Meanwhile around here there are still signs up from Cruz’s last campaign declaring him “Texas tough”. That one in particular made me facepalm hard…

    I’m pretty sure if Sessions gets the nomination the trumpsters will do all kinds of mental gymnastics to deny any ad which repeats what Trump said…

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  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again.”

    The argument against Jeff Sessions for Senate distilled to 14 words. Yes, I know that it won’t resonate in ‘Bama, but…

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m not sure that I would say that 159-99 overall and 85-40 at Auburn makes a “loser football coach,” but I don’t follow closely enough to know. In the bigger picture, the idea that a retired football coach is the best choice for US Senator seems ludicrous to me, but I don’t live in Alabama either.

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  15. Kathy says:

    @Matt:

    In the early portion of 1984, Winston hears on the telescreen about the reduction in size of some ration, say to 100 gr. Later in the day, the telescreeen informs the ration has increased to 100 gr., and he has to cheer along with the rest of the doublethinkers.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I don’t follow college football so I took at face value an SEC fans description of his “ignominious departure” from Auburn and “embarrassingly short stint of 2 unremarkable years at Texas”. (the quotes are actually paraphrasing of what he said and I’m not even sure I got the Texas part right) The guy is probably an Alabama fan. Come to think of it his nym is J—- J—-. Hmmmmmmm…. 😉

    159-99 is pretty good.

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  17. CSK says:

    Trump claims that he won’t campaign against Sessions. McConnell must have gotten to him. I wonder how long that claim will last.

    ReplyReply

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