There have been a lot of discussions about President Donald Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions lately. It’s not just that Trump has been publicly attacking Sessions, because that is nothing new. He’s been doing that almost from the beginning of his presidency, ever since Sessions decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
So it’s true that Trump is upset with Sessions for not working as his personal lawyer and trying to protect him from criminal probes.
What’s new is that for the past several days Trump has been openly talking about firing the Attorney General. Not only that, but it seems that certain important U.S. senators such as Lindsey Graham are also saying that the president may let Sessions go.
“The willingness of Republican senators to turn on Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the result of a furious lobbying campaign from President Donald Trump, who for the past ten days has been venting his anger at Sessions to “any senator who will listen,” according to one GOP Senate aide. The president, who has spent a year and a half fulminating against his attorney general in public, finally got traction on Capitol Hill thanks to the growing frustration of a handful of GOP senators with their former colleague.”
But here’s the thing: getting rid of Jeff Sessions may actually make things worse for the president. In fact, you could argue that it would be the dumbest thing he could do.
- The firing of Sessions would create a political and media firestorm the likes of which has not been seen in Washington during Trump’s presidency. There would be charges of corruption and obstruction and foul play that would dominate media coverage for weeks.
- During the midterm election season it would detract and distract from the GOP message on the economy that it wants voters to focus on when deciding which party to vote for.
- If Sessions leaves there would be no new Attorney General for the rest of Trump’s time in office, because the Senate would not confirm someone that fast. Instead, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who has been very supportive of the Trump Russia investigation – would be promoted to the role of Acting Attorney General. That’s the last thing Trump needs. (There is an interesting article in today’s Washington Post which discusses this issue in more detail.)
- Firing Sessions may result in him making a plea bargain with Mueller against Trump. Sessions clearly has no interest in protecting Trump, and we know from his recusal he is looking out for his own interests first. Mueller would love to get cooperation from Sessions, and in fact he may have already interviewed him. If Trump cuts Sessions loose, then the Attorney General is free to testify against the president. Most people think Sessions has been a witness to every crime Trump has committed while in office, and also has inside information on the Trump-Russia election scandal.
So there is no question, if Donald Trump fires Jeff Sessions it would be a dumb move, and as a result it probably won’t happen any time soon.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.