The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Winning’ the Sessions Fight

In response to Scotus News

Rich writes below:

Trump can keep on pounding Sessions — there was another Twitter blast this morning — but if Trump doesn’t actually take the leap and do something about it, all the attacks and criticism will start to make him look weak and indecisive. In which case, he’ll need to move on to the next thing, having succeeded only in diminishing his attorney general and himself.

I think this is right and it’s hard not to see this morning’s Twitter announcement about barring transgenders from serving in the military as an attempt to change the subject and/or to remind the base that even if he fires Sessions he can still be counted on to advance Sessionsism, as it were.

But I expect that he will fire Sessions soon enough. Perhaps during the August recess, on the theory he could appoint a temporary and more pliant AG without Senate approval. But the more likely reason he will fire Sessions is the one Rich alluded to. Not firing him runs the risk — in his mind at least — of making him look weak. We know already that the easiest way to get him to do something is to tell him he can’t. That box has already been checked. If the story becomes that Trump backed down, the urge to “win” will likely become even harder for him to resist.

It will be an interesting test of the Democrats’ cynicism. It would be bad for both Trump and the country for the president to fire the attorney general. I would expect at least some Democrats to recognize the former but downplay the latter. Goading Trump into firing Sessions must be awfully tempting for people like Chuck Schumer, never mind left-wing pundits and reporters. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing “he choked” or “Sessions won” talk to proliferate in the days or weeks ahead. It would be good if the president ignored such taunting. But I have little confidence he will.