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How Trump’s Ob-Sessions Could Cost Him

The president needs real allies on populist issues, not cookie cutter Republicans who praise him on cable news.

While Democrats think they improved their chances of defeating President Donald Trump on Super Tuesday, they may have done him a favor. For all his many faults, Bernie Sanders can credibly run against whether Trump has kept his promises on trade and ending the wars. Joe Biden has the same record Hillary Clinton did on the crime bill, the trade deals and the Iraq war—and was a bigger player in making all these things happen.

Then on Wednesday morning, Trump resumed his Twitter feud with his former attorney general Jeff Sessions. Sessions is running for his old Senate seat, now held by Democrat Doug Jones. He made it to the March 31 runoff but finished behind former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville by a narrow margin.

“This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt,” Trump fumed. “Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

The presidential tweet might have been an endorsement of Tuberville, an utterly conventional Republican uninterested in the populist issues that helped make Trump president and surrounded by aides who want to increase immigration. Sessions is an ally of Trump on all these policy areas and was the first important lawmaker to endorse the brash reality TV star for president—The New York Times called Sessions “Trump before Trump” just last month.

Perhaps that matters less to Trump than loyalty in the face of the (ultimately unsuccessful) Robert Mueller probe. But his administration has been besieged by subordinates whose foreign policies will lead to more wars, who want to reverse the tight labor markets that have helped ensure that current economic growth leads to wage gains for the president’s working-class supporters and thinly disguised Never Trumpers whose risks to the president were laid bare during the impeachment saga. “I view the Trump presidency not as a condition to be managed, but as an opportunity to be seized,” Representative Matt Gaetz is fond of saying, but there are even some in the White House who do not share this sentiment.

That raises the question: Has the opportunity been seized if whenever the Trump presidency comes to an end, Washington is full of pre-Trump Republicans like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley while Sessions is at home? Trump now has the attorney general he wanted in Bill Barr. He needs senators who will support him on America First policies, not just for the duration of a cable news segment.