Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions’ playground fight continued into Sunday. In an interview with Sinclair TV, Trump said Sessions had not been “mentally qualified” to be his first attorney general.
Now running for his old Senate seat in Alabama, Sessions continues to doggedly protest that only he could properly implement the president’s agenda.
The undignified exchange began on Friday night. Still sore over Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation in early 2017, and having recorded the Sinclair interview at the White House earlier that day, Trump told voters not to trust his former ally.
Sessions objected but insisted, loyally, that he was the right pick for Trump supporters.
Then on Saturday Trump hit back harder, saying Sessions “ruined many lives” and appearing to equate his former aide with the “dirty cops” of the Russia investigation, whom the president referred to as “slime”.
Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian election interference after failing to inform Congress of contacts with the Russian ambassador during the election campaign.
His deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel after Trump fired James Comey, the director of the FBI who had overseen the investigation since its beginnings under Barack Obama.
After a near-two-year investigation, Mueller did not find a conspiracy between Trump and Russia but did lay out links with Moscow and possible instances of obstruction of justice by the president, whom he did not exonerate.
“Mr President,” Sessions began a Saturday tweet. “Alabama can and does trust me, as do conservatives across the country. Perhaps you’ve forgotten.”
The message did not calm Trump, who spent his White House evening firing off abuse and retweeting messages in questionable taste about Sessions, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Stacey Abrams, Hillary Clinton and others.
“They trusted me,” Sessions went on, “when I stepped out and put that trust on the line for you. You and I fight for the same agenda. Tommy Tuberville [his Senate opponent, ahead in the polls, endorsed by Trump] is so weak he won’t debate me and too weak for Alabama.
“Alabama will vote for you this fall, but Alabama will not take orders from Washington on who to send to the Senate.”
The message was in keeping with Sessions’ campaign tactic of maintaining extreme loyalty to the man who regularly humiliated him in office and, after the 2018 midterm elections, fired him. He succeeded only in poking the bear.
“Jeff,” Trump wrote, “you had your chance and you blew it. Recused yourself … and ran for the hills. You had no courage, and ruined many lives. The dirty cops, and others, got caught by better and stronger people than you. Hopefully this slime will pay a big price.
“You should drop out of the race and pray that super liberal Doug Jones … gets beaten badly. He voted for impeachment based on “ZERO”. Disgraced Alabama. Coach Tuberville will be a GREAT Senator!”
Tuberville, who once coached the Auburn Tigers, a college football power, will face Sessions in a run-off in July. Jones won Sessions’ old seat in December 2017, beating a hugely controversial Republican, Roy Moore. The Democrat faces an uphill battle to keep the seat in November.
Doggedly, Sessions still wasn’t done.
“I will never apologize for following the law and serving faithfully and with honor,” said the immigration hardliner who was once denied a federal judgeship over accusations of racism, who was the first senator to endorse Trump and who mentored Stephen Miller, Trump’s far-right White House adviser.
“Neither of us knew about the phony investigation into our campaign until after I was sworn in. As you will recall, I recommended firing James Comey from the very beginning.”
That was Saturday night. Sunday morning brought cold comfort.
“Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general,” the president told the syndicated Full Measure show, in a rambling complaint about the Russia investigation.
“Should have never been attorney general, was not qualified. He’s not mentally qualified to be attorney general. He was the biggest problem.”