Former attorney general Jeff Sessions announced Thursday evening that he will enter the race for his former Alabama Senate seat.
In an appearance on Fox News Tucker Carlson Tonight, Sessions confirmed his entry into the race and addressed his tumultuous relationship with President Trump. While serving as attorney general, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian agents, prompting harsh and sustained criticism from Trump.
“The whole [investigation] was very painful for him,” Sessions said, “but, as painful and as prolonged as it was, it did clear him of Russian collusion, and I’m certainly glad that finally happened.”
Sessions also criticized fellow Republicans for not working hard enough to advance Trump’s policies.
“We need to get some Republicans moving,” said Sessions, who “haven’t been pushing hard enough to advance the Trump agenda. And so that’s what I look forward to doing, and I think I can contribute to that.”
A Trump endorsement would represent a sharp reversal in the relationship between the president and one of his earliest supporters and campaign surrogates.
In July 2017, the President publicly admitted that he regretted appointing Sessions to his cabinet. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else,” he said during an interview with the New York Times.
Sessions recused himself in May 2017 after it was revealed he had not disclosed two meetings with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak that occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I guess I’d rather go into a Republican primary with the president’s support than without it,” Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota commented. “But Jeff Sessions is iconic, and obviously, he’ll be a player right out of the chute.”
“I think the whole campaign is going to be around what President Trump said about Jeff Sessions,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “I think Jeff knows what he’s getting into, and we’ll leave it up to the voters in Alabama.”
Trump is expected to attend a pivotal college football game in Alabama this weekend, but it is unclear which Alabama senate candidate he will meet with during his visit.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee will remain neutral during the primary. The list of primary candidates includes Representative Bradley Byrne (R., Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore lost a special election for the same Alabama senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones in a 2017 after Moore was accused of multiple instances of sexual assault.