Jeff Sessions was forced to resign from his job as Attorney General Wednesday, but although he’ll be packing up his desk at the Justice Department, he may not be gone from Washington, D.C., for long.
According to a report in Politico, Sessions is considering returning to his home state of Alabama where he may run for the Senate seat he vacated to take a job with the Trump administration.
Sessions left a Senate seat vacant in 2017. It went to a special election, with Democrat Doug Jones facing off against controversial Republican Judge Roy Moore. During the campaign, Moore was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl, and the decades-old allegation sealed Moore’s loss.
Jones is up for re-election (this time to a full term in the Senate) in 2020, when Sessions himself was due to come up for re-election (had he not taken the job in Washington), and Jones is by no means a lock on the seat. In fact, local Republicans, including former Republican Senator Luther Strange (who lost to Moore in the special election primary), seemed giddy about the possibility of Sessions returning to compete for his old position.
“Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2020!” Strange tweeted Wednesday.
The problem for Sessions is that, while he’s a beloved fixture in Alabama, his time as Attorney General has done little to improve how potential 2020 voters see him. In fact, Politico reports his former constituents have “soured” somewhat on their former senator, largely because of President Donald Trump’s “relentless attacks” on Sessions’ character.
Since excusing himself from the DOJ’s Russia probe, Trump has routinely eviscerated Sessions — who was among Trump’s first and most ardent supporters as Trump was running for President in 2016 — over his refusal to intervene in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, allowing Mueller to have all the time and resources he needed to make a thorough inquiry into whether Russian officials effectively colluded with Trump campaign officials to impact the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
Trump finally removed Sessions from office Wednesday, taking media attention off the Republicans’ Congressional losses and signaling his own growing impatience with Mueller’s probe. Democrats immediately began to claim Trump was seeking an end to the Russia investigation and that Mueller’s job — and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s — were in Trump’s crosshairs.
Rosenstein reportedly visited the White House Thursday morning but has not resigned from his position. Robert Mueller signaled to reporters, also Thursday, that the Russia probe wasn’t in danger. In fact, he and his team, Mueller said, are putting together their final report, which they are expected to deliver to Congress later this month.
Sessions announced his resignation in a letter, clearly prepared in advance of the occasion, just following a contentious White House press conference Wednesday afternoon. He has yet to confirm his future plans, though the White House was clear that Sessions will not serve much longer in the role. A temporary Attorney General was assigned to fill Sessions’ position, and a replacement is expected to be named quickly.