Democrats have become Jeff Sessions' strongest defenders

Trying to protect the Mueller Russia investigation, Democrats are sticking up for an attorney general they opposed

By Matthew Sheffield
Published January 5, 2018 5:37PM (EST)
 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In yet another example of how almost anything can happen with Donald Trump as president, congressional Democrats find themselves standing up for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man who almost all of them said should not be attorney general just a year ago.

The Democrats' flip appears to be in response to a new effort from some congressional Republicans to have Trump fire Sessions for not providing enough oversight to the independent Russian interference investigation. The get-Sessions movement is an outgrowth of the larger Republican effort to cast special counsel Robert Mueller (a long-time member of their own party) as an overzealous prosecutor out to get the president.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the sole Democrat to vote to confirm Sessions to his current position but the new threats against Sessions are getting many other Democrats to stand by his service as a means of protecting the Russia probe.

“I voted against Jeff Sessions and said he never should be there in the first place," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a news conference on Thursday. "My view now is very simple: nothing, nothing should ever interfere with the Mueller investigation.”

In March, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon had called on Sessions to resign. On Thursday, he reversed that call in an interview with CNN. "There was a time earlier in his tenure that I called him on to resign," Merkley said. "At this point, I would have to determine the consequences knowing the president may be trying to obstruct justice."
Trump has repeatedly hinted at his desire to fire the "beleaguered" Sessions for recusing himself from involvement in the Mueller inquiry so the new attacks on the attorney general are sure to meet with his approval.

Trump has repeatedly accused Sessions of being disloyal by not forcing the FBI and Mueller to end their investigations into connections between the president's campaign and Russian nationals.

"I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him," Trump said during a Dec. 28 interview with the New York Times, referring to former attorney general Eric Holder's relationship with his boss, then-president Barack Obama.

The new attacks on the "beleaguered"  attorney general are sure to meet with his approval.

Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via or follow him on Twitter.

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