After Donald Trump told Alabama supporters “don’t trust” Jeff Sessions and backed his opponent for the Republican Senate nomination, the man he trusted to be his first attorney secretary did something rare: he fell back.
The president was “damned happy,” Sessions said on Friday night, withdrawing from Russia’s investigation.
Sessions, 73, said his decision in March 2017 was forced because he did not disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 election, “protected the rule of law and resulted in your release”.
In fact, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, appointed by then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17, 2017, said in his report that although he had not found evidence of criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the president, he did not force Trump.
Session’s statement was otherwise in line with Trump and his supporters.
Sessions were postponed following the election in mid-2018 and were replaced by William Barr, a lawyer who has proved much more to Trump’s taste, working to protect the president and reject the results and prerequisite for the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian electoral disruption.
Sessions is an immigration hero and mentor to hard-right Trump adviser Stephen Miller. He was the first senator to support Trump in 2016.
He now runs in the Republican primary to contest his old seat, which Republicans lost to Democrat Doug Jones in December 2017 after nominating Roy Moore, a hardline judge who spoke favorably of Vladimir Putin but was accused of and denied sexual misconduct involving women so young like 14.
On Twitter on Friday night, Trump approved a series of congressional candidates, including Ronny Jackson, a doctor who left the White House engulfed in scandal and now running for the House in Texas.
Turning to Alabama, Trump wrote: “Three years ago, after Jeff Sessions recalled himself, the fraudulent Mueller Scam began. Alabama, don’t trust Jeff Sessions. He released our country. That’s why I approved Coach Tommy Tuberville, the true supporter of our # MAGA agenda! “
Tuberville is a revered former coach of the Auburn Tigers, a leading name in college football, an almost sacred institution in the deep red state.
Tuberville won the first round of the primary, which Moore also entered. He and Sessions will compete for a runoff in July, the winner against Jones in November. Tuberville maintains a healthy lead on election issues.
Sessions has been so resolute in his support of the president that humiliated him and shot him that many critics likened an early campaign ad to a hostage video.
On Friday, he wrote: “Look, I know your anger, but repentance was required by law. I did my duty and you are damn happy. It protected the rule of law and resulted in your liberation.
“Your personal feelings do not dictate who Alabama chooses as its senator, the people of Alabama do.”
If Session’s response to Trump seemed more in grief than anger, he was more aggressive toward his opponent.
Sessions still told his former master, saying that Tuberville was “a coward who is rightly too scared to debate me. He says you are wrong with China and trade. He wants to bring even more foreign workers to take American jobs. It’s not your agenda and it’s not mine or Alabama’s. I know Alabama. Tuberville does not. “
Tuberville retweeted and echoed Trump, reversing Session’s allegation of cowardice elsewhere.
“Jeff Sessions threw Donald Trump to the wolves with the appointment of Mueller,” he said in a tweet first sent on May 17, the anniversary of the name of the special counsel.
“When facing support [Trump] or running scared, Jeff Sessions chose the easy route and recalled himself. I’ve never run from a fight in the US Senate. “