In Trump’s world, Sessions is unfit because of Russia investigation, not his racist past

Sessions’ perceived display of disloyalty was an unforgivable sin.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. CREDIT: AP Photo/John Locher
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. CREDIT: AP Photo/John Locher

As the federal probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government expands, an outraged President Donald Trump is narrowing his ire on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

It’s an ironic turn of events. Trump exhibited no concern over Sessions’ public record of racism, and the racist polices he’s pursuing as attorney general. But Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russian investigation, in effect, took away the top Justice Department official’s ability to shield Trump from mounting questions. Such a display of disloyalty, for the notably thin-skinned president, was an unforgivable sin and reason enough for Trump to mount a public campaign obviously intended to humiliate Sessions into resigning.

Trump’s displeasure with Sessions burst into public view last week, when Trump said in an interview with the New York Times that he wouldn’t have appointed Sessions to his post if he’d known the newly confirmed attorney general would recuse himself from the Russia investigation — paving the way for Robert Mueller to be named special prosecutor. For a week, Trump continued to vent in public and private conversations about his displeasure with Sessions, who declined to resign in the immediate aftermath.

This week, the twists in this tortured tale have come fast, and frequently via Twitter. On Monday morning, Trump described Sessions as “beleaguered” — an apparent jibe at the Justice Department’s failure to investigate last year’s Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Sessions is beleaguered, and he has his boss to thank for it. Trump struck again on Tuesday morning with a tweet, decrying Sessions’ “VERY weak position” on investigating Clinton.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, acknowledged Tuesday morning during an interview from the White House lawn with conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt that the speculation is “probably right” about Trump wanting Sessions to quit.

Yet, Trump appears reluctant to actually fire his attorney general, settling instead to engage a passive-aggressive effort to drive Sessions out of office on his own accord.

It’s a shame and disgrace that Sessions fell out of favor with the president only because he recused himself from the Russia investigation and not because of Sessions’ well-known and well-documented history of racism.

Where was Trump’s outrage six months ago, when he nominated a man who has a history of making racist comments? Why wasn’t Trump bothered by the fact that Sessions failed secure a federal judge appointment in 1986, partly because people like Coretta Scott King convinced the Senate he was considered too extreme in his racial views to hold such an important place in the judiciary? How is it that Trump turned a blind eye to the fact that Sessions played a key role in a voter fraud case against black civil rights activists in Alabama?

So far, Trump’s shame-and-begone scheme isn’t working. Sessions remains at the head of the Justice Department and has shown no desire to leave without a direct order from the White House. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s published rebuke of him, Sessions said he was staying for the foreseeable future.

“I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” Sessions said last week at a Department of Justice news conference. “We’re serving right now. What we’re doing today is the kind of work that we intend to continue.”

What awful, race-baiting work it is. Right from the start of his tenure at the Justice Department, Session targeted urban centers — read black communities — and Muslims as the focal points of a misguided and mean-spirited anti-crime crusade.

Of course, this being Washington, D.C., where White House intrigue is the favorite parlor game, speculation is afoot over who might replace Sessions, should he quit or be fired. At least one, very early report suggests former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are high on Trump’s wish list.

Sigh. What a political dilemma. Trump’s favored replacements could be two well-worn politicians with racist histories of their own. As mayor of New York City and, more recently as a television talking head, Giuliani rarely hides his contempt for the changing, multicultural nature of his city and nation. As for Gingrich, racially insensitive comments have long been a part of a world view that white-led Western civilization is under attack.

Despite the overall vile nature of Sessions’ public life, it’s difficult to express a modicum of sympathy for him, even as he’s abused with open contempt by Trump. But, perhaps, even greater horrors are to come. Indeed, the most charitable thing to say about Sessions’ ordeal is that Trump is likely to dredge up yet another racist to replace him.

Rest assured, Sessions’ replacement will surely know that his most vital role will be to protect Trump’s backside from the Russia investigation.