President Trump has made the point for the nth time that the recusal of Jeff Sessions on matters of alleged Russian collusion invariably led to a series of events that culminated in the appointment of Robert Mueller, a prior associate of James Comey’s, to investigate Trump with a veritable blank check and a cadre of mostly liberal attorneys, fueled by a hysterical media ready to make them all Watergate-like folk heroes if they come to Beltway-correct conclusions. I fear we could soon be in Lawrence Walsh/Javert territory.
So in retrospect, the recusal was probably a political mistake, given that a seemingly principled decision — most observers in the administration at the time seemed to think that Sessions’s recusal at least temporarily silenced the baying wolves — was soon seen by anti-Trumpers as weakness to be exploited (the subsequent hysterical media-driven feeding frenzy quickly turned on everyone from Representative Devin Nunes to Trump’s own family) rather than probity to be appreciated. Sessions’s own current remarkable Stoicism in the context of Trump’s attacks perhaps reflects that had he to do it over again in light of what followed, he might have not recused himself.
But all that said, Trump is said to value loyalty and competence. And Sessions is the epitome of both. He was a force for immigration enforcement and an advocate of the ignored muscular working classes long before Trump; it was his advocacy of these issues which drew him to Trump’s 2016 populist campaign, and prompted his early and almost solitary support for Trump. He is a good man with the legal and political experience to make the fundamental changes at the Justice Department that returns it to enforcement of existing laws rather than its past errant role under Holder and Lynch of a creator of progressive agendas masquerading as an enforcement agency.
Politically, Trump made his point. Again, any further public criticism of Sessions undermines two of Trump’s strengths, acknowledged even by his enemies: one, that he is loyal to those even under fire who were willing to take a risk and support him when few would; and, two, he has a proven ability to appoint superb professionals who know what they are doing and yet are not part of the deep state (McMaster, Mattis, Pompeo, etc.).
It’s past time to let Sessions do his job and move on.