By Sheharbano Jafry.
When Donald Trump announced his desire to seek the presidency of the United States on June 16, 2015, his decision was met with unsuppressed laughter from all sides of the political spectrum. No one would have ever conceived that New York’s “Donald” would pursue a career in politics, especially for such an influential position.
Nevertheless, from that day, Mr. Trump began campaigning for office. Self-funding his own presidential bid, the 45th Commander-in-Chief had difficulty in securing the trust of his Republican colleagues, who deemed him too risky for America.
As conservatives turned away from Donald Trump, some edged towards him, appreciating his steadfast and straightforward approach to pressing issues. One such supporter, who has not inched away from his boss since his announcement of support, is the controversial Jeff Sessions, the Republican Alabama senator.
His allegiance to the current president appeared visible in August of 2015, when “he famously donned a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap at a Trump rally”. Throughout the election season, he “consistently praised Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies” and cited that the president’s position on these policies was what made his campaign not an ordinary one, but a “movement” and opportunity to let the “people’s voices be heard”.
To claim that Jeff Sessions was just a supporter of Mr. Trump is an understatement, for he represented that backbone of legitimacy that the president was lacking early on in his campaign. He was that loyal ally whose work pushed Donald Trump from the sets of The Apprentice to the desks of the Oval Office.
Who is Jeff Sessions?
Born in Selma, Alabama, Jeff Sessions pursued a career in law at the University of Alabama. In the 1970s, he devoted his time to the military by serving in the Army Reserves.
Mr. Sessions returned to his law profession when he became an assistant United States attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, later securing the position for U.S. Attorney for that same district.
At this point in his career, Mr. Sessions surrounded himself with criticism. The Washington Post writes that “his former colleagues testified Sessions used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” On The Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker reports that because of these accusations, “Session’s reputation was in tatters”.
Nevertheless, Jeff Sessions continually pushed forward in order to gain more influence in his community. He did just that in 1996 when he was “elected as a Republican for the United States Senate”.
During his tenure as senator, he was steadfast in his conservative policies and fought on the side that opposed extending rights to LGBT groups and other minorities.
After twenty years of serving as Alabama’s senator, Jeff Sessions retired from his post and agreed to President Trump’s offer to become the 84th United States Attorney General.
Attorney-General Appointment Process
Over the years, as Mr. Sessions continued to anger Americans due to his stiff standpoints, resistance toward him grew, culminating in a difficult appointment process in the senate. To attain the job, Jeff Sessions had to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then seek confirmation from the senate itself.
Despite the fact that Republicans hold a majority, they were unable to smoothly approve Mr. Trump’s appointee. From protests to passionate speeches by Democratic senators, Jeff Sessions was finally approved on February 8, 2017, nearly a month after the Trump Administration took office.
How the Relationship Turned Sour
As attorney general, Mr. Sessions was unable to clear his image. The breaking point came when he recused himself from the investigation into Trump’s campaign ties with Russia. He decided to do this after news that he “failed to disclose that he met with a Russian envoy during his confirmation hearings” came forward.
In January, when Democratic senator Al Franken questioned Jeff Sessions during the hearing about contact with a Russian entity during the election, he stated that he had been “called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign”, but “did not have communications with the Russians”.
That statement came as a stark contrast with what The Washington Post revealed on March 1st, outlining that Sessions “had met with [Sergey] Kislyak at least twice in 2016”. The clear contradiction between the attorney general’s words and evidence did not escape Mr. Trump’s ears. Nevertheless, he persisted that Sessions should not abandon the investigation. However, his appointee did not listen to the president’s advice due to bipartisan concerns.
From that point on, the president’s support for his loyal attorney general began to waver. Before, he would tweet how “Jeff Sessions is an honest man”, and “he did not say anything wrong”. Now, instead of favoring him, Donald Trump calls him “beleaguered” and claims that Sessions’ loyalty to him was at face value, for he really only “liked the large crowds at rallies”.
The president’s change in opinion was inevitable from the start. Before, when Mr. Trump was a candidate, Sessions’ support for him was denounced from Democrats and other moderate politicians. Because the senator was too extreme in his policies, he was never able to attract the majority.
That was even clearer during the approval process of attorney general; it took almost a month for him to secure the position.
Because of this visible resistance towards Jeff Sessions, it was only a matter of time before the president lost confidence in him.
From being one of the most prized supporters of Donald Trump to being condemned by the same individual on Twitter and interviews, Jeff Sessions has had a tumultuous experience. After becoming the attorney general, Mr. Sessions had various goals in mind. However, with such controversy surrounding him, he is unable to fulfill those aims.
As of now, it is unclear whether Trump will dismiss Sessions. Nevertheless, it will not come as a surprise if Jeff Sessions is relieved from his job, for he will join a list of countless individuals who failed to woo Donald Trump.
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