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Jeff Sessions In The Doghouse

Is there a more loyal Donald Trump supporter than Attorney General Jeff Sessions (not named “Trump” or “Kushner,” I mean)? Sessions was with Trump when everybody else in Washington thought that was absurd. But even that is not enough to protect Sessions from the wrath of the president who thinks the law is himself, according to The New York Times [1]:

Few Republicans were quicker to embrace President Trump’s campaign last year than Jeff Sessions, and his reward was one of the most prestigious jobs in America. But more than four months into his presidency, Mr. Trump has grown sour on Mr. Sessions, now his attorney general, blaming him for various troubles that have plagued the White House.

The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter [2] in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban [3] on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump accused Mr. Sessions’s department of devising a “politically correct” version of the ban — as if the president had nothing to do with it.

In private, the president’s exasperation has been even sharper. He has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.

Trump’s worst problems have not been caused by Jeff Sessions, or by Sean Spicer, or by anybody other than Donald Trump. More:

But the messages caused considerable head scratching around Washington since it was Mr. Trump who signed the revised executive order and, presumably, agreed to the legal strategy in the first place. His posts made it sound like the Justice Department was not part of his administration.

The White House had little to add to the president’s messages on Monday. Asked why Mr. Trump signed the revised order if he did not support it, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said he did it only to convince a California-based appeals court. “He was looking to, again, match the demands laid out by the Ninth Circuit and, for the purpose of expediency, to start looking at the best way possible to move that process forward,” she said.

Our president is making himself look like a fool who doesn’t know how the US government works. In revising the travel ban language, Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department were trying to come up with one that would be more likely to survive Supreme Court review. Trump must be the only person in America who thinks that by force of his audacious will, he can bend the Supreme Court to his will. Sessions and his team were trying to serve the president’s best interests — and it seemed that the president understood that, which is why he approved the revised version. Until now.

Why does anyone want to work for Trump? He routinely cuts the legs out from under his most loyal people. He marched Spicer et alia out to give an official story about James Comey’s firing, then made them out to be liars a couple of days later in his interview with NBC. Now it is reported that he ambushed his national security team — McMaster, Mattis, and Tillerson — with an impromptu speech change [4] at the NATO summit, concerning Article 5. Excerpt from Politico: [4]

It was not until the next day, Thursday, May 25, when Trump started talking at an opening ceremony for NATO’s new Brussels headquarters, that the president’s national security team realized their boss had made a decision with major consequences—without consulting or even informing them in advance of the change.

“They had the right speech and it was cleared through McMaster,” said a source briefed by National Security Council officials in the immediate aftermath of the NATO meeting. “As late as that same morning, it was the right one.”

Added a senior White House official, “There was a fully coordinated other speech everybody else had worked on”—and it wasn’t the one Trump gave. “They didn’t know it had been removed,” said a third source of the Trump national security officials on hand for the ceremony. “It was only upon delivery.”

The president appears to have deleted it himself, according to one version making the rounds inside the government, reflecting his personal skepticism about NATO and insistence on lecturing NATO allies about spending more on defense rather than offering reassurances of any sort; another version relayed to others by several White House aides is that Trump’s nationalist chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller played a role in the deletion.

Incredible. The chaos and dysfunction in this White House is such that the National Security Adviser, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State get sandbagged by the boss in public. Nixon was sneaky, yes, but he was smart. With this one, we are approaching The Madness of King George territory. With nukes, and the world’s most powerful military at his disposal.

When they write the history on the death of the Trump administration, it will be judged a suicide.

111 Comments (Open | Close)

111 Comments To "Jeff Sessions In The Doghouse"

#1 Comment By Glaivester On June 7, 2017 @ 2:39 am

Ridiculous. For one thing, the tweet about the DoJ seemed to me to be more along the lines of “The DoJ tried to play nice, and that was a mistake.” I didn’t really see it as blame-shifting or actually indicating anger at the DoJ, rather just a doubling down and a warning shot that he is not conceding that the courts were right about the original order.

All of the other stuff seems to be rumor-mongering by those with a vested interest in driving a wedge between Sessions and Trump.

Is there any real evidence that Trump is cutting the legs out from under Sessions other than an uncharitable interpretation of that tweet and stories peddled from anonymous sources?

#2 Comment By muad’dib On June 7, 2017 @ 6:57 am

No one who cares about the concerns or the lives of the 60,000,000 people who voted for Trump would ever leak to the New York Times.

But anyone who cares about the concerns or the lives of the 63,000,000 people who voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton should leak to the New York Times, the Washington Post & any other reputable news outlet. Someone has to keep that spoiled 5 year old in a 70 year old body in check and we know the Republican Party won’t…

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 7, 2017 @ 7:29 am

“I don’t think there’s any significant constituency for the proposition that Donald Trump wasn’t elected President.”

Not what we’re hearing from the Hillary wing of the political duopoly.

So why is Deher’s column full of anti-Trump comments?

Because the columnist is reflexively NYT-style anti-Trump (and seems content to let them set his Trump agenda. David Brooks, et. al.) There’s not much point in hearing the same tired personal insults proffered by “The Resistance” over and over. What’s the point? After a while you just disengage, because it’s redundant.

#4 Comment By Kevin On June 7, 2017 @ 7:38 am

“Without named sources, or unnamed sources providing documents or other evidence that corroborates the claims, you have to assume fake news, disinformation and propaganda given that it is the New York Times and Politco.

I’ll just point out that this newfound ethical standard would nullify any and all journalistic reporting ever. (Even Pravda sometimes used the senior party official here and there, but I guess the TRUE journalists of North Korea might be a good exception).

Also, riddle me this: if the Times is FAKE NEWS, why is that Trump not only gives it one on one interviews, but also gave its reporters the biggest scoop of his administration so far (decision to withdraw the first iteration of the AHCA)? Why do Haberman and Thrush get more facetime with Trump than Fox News, and infinetely more than the truth tellers at Infowars and Gateway Pundit? It’s almost as though his fight with the media is kayfabe meant for the consumption of not-so-discerning minds.

#5 Comment By Tyro On June 7, 2017 @ 8:00 am

To quote PJ O’Rourke: I don’t know many people who voted for Trump, but I know a lot of people who voted against Hillary. We’re still not sorry.

A lot of Trump votes were essentially nihilistic: after 8 years of Obama, Republicans wanted to “blow things up” to show that they could.

It bears noting that 6 months into the Trump administration, everything that Trump and his supporters accused Hillary of (lack of stamina, financial corruption, FBI inexorably closing in) has been actually committed by Trump.

W was the ignorant entitled prep school jerk that I was quite familiar with. Trump is the narcissist small business owner who spends his time when discussing work telling you how terrible his employees and customers are. He’s friendly until you remember the way he talks about them is the way he will eventually talk about you.

In both cases, I wondered how people could not see these people for who they were: i had encountered their types in real life, after all. In Trump’s case, his voters were either those very similarly narcissistic well-off small business owners, or the customers he would attract and then screw over.

#6 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 7, 2017 @ 10:14 am

Not what we’re hearing from the Hillary wing of the political duopoly.

So why is Deher’s column full of anti-Trump comments?

Apples and oranges Fran. You’re not still crediting Trump with offering any hope or anything good are you? Rod is full of anti-Trump comments because Trump has done and said much that any decent human being would be anti- about.

You’re right about the faction that maintains Hillary really won the election. No, she did not get a majority of the popular vote, although she did get a plurality slightly ahead of Trump. No, most of her votes did not come from people who loved her, a lot came from people like me who had to hold our nose good and tight to stomach doing so — because we thought Trump would be just about what he has turned out to be. And no, those of our fellow citizens who did vote for Trump are not going to fade away, they need to be engaged.

#7 Comment By John Ainsworth On June 7, 2017 @ 11:23 am

To the commentators who said, ‘He works for us’. Indeed he does. We the people elected him on a platform of, among other things, limiting travel from dangerous countries and holding NATO to their commitments. Which is exactly what he is doing.

To the other commentators. Prejudice against Obama by some Trump supporters does not excuse prejudice against the working class. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Remember when Trump tweeted that he was wiretapped by Obama. The cry went up about how irresponsible and stupid Trump was. Then, it turned out that surveillance of Trump and his campaign was unmasked and given to the president in his daily briefing. Now, the Senate Intelligence committee is saying that they won’t renew Section 702 authorizing warrantless surveillance. Rand Paul would love to have a policy success like that!

Class based irrational hatred of Donald Trump is making it very difficult to tell what is true. All sense of perspective seems to have been lost as news outlets accept shoddier and shoddier sourcing, contradict their previous reporting without retraction, and substitute fantasy for sober analysis.

Imagine that you were hearing a story about a third person from someone that hated them. The story is very long and mostly punctuated with lurid denunciations of the third party’s intelligence and character. But, within the story you hear over and over of the third person’s improbable success where others have failed. Would you 100% believe your narrator’s assessment of the third person’s abilities and character? Or, would you conclude that you were dealing with an unreliable narrator?

#8 Comment By bt On June 7, 2017 @ 3:02 pm

“To the commentators who said, ‘He works for us’. Indeed he does. We the people elected him on a platform of, among other things, limiting travel from dangerous countries and holding NATO to their commitments. Which is exactly what he is doing.”

—–

John Ainsworth,

How is the weather in St. Petersburg this time of year?

#9 Comment By One Man On June 7, 2017 @ 6:49 pm

“No one who cares about the concerns or the lives of the 60,000,000 people who voted for Trump would ever leak to the New York Times.”

Wrong! Many people who voted for Trump didn’t like him. They just hated Hillary more.

Lots of people who held their noses and voted for him would be happy to see him gone and Mike Pence as president.

#10 Comment By Glaivester On June 7, 2017 @ 9:18 pm

I’ll just point out that this newfound ethical standard [assume uncorroborated claims are false] would nullify any and all journalistic reporting ever. (Even Pravda sometimes used the senior party official here and there, but I guess the TRUE journalists of North Korea might be a good exception).

I would take a more nuanced approach – without corroborating evidence, consider the claims as a possibility, but don’t blindly assume they are true.

To put things another way, treat claims proportional to the evidence. A few qualifiers here and there (“If this is true”) would go a long way.

#11 Comment By Dan Phillips On June 8, 2017 @ 7:03 am

Rod, do you support Article 5? Maybe you should give Trump credit for not endorsing that insanity by name instead of adding to the anti-Trump hysteria chorus.