Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks during a farewell ceremony for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building May 09, 2019 in Washington, DC. Rosenstein, who has worked for the federal government for more than 29 years, will be most remembered for overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2018 presidential election. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Jeff Sessions weighs run for old Alabama Senate seat: reports

It's unclear how Trump's repeated criticisms of the ex-attorney general would influence an attempt at a comeback


Shira Tarlo
October 29, 2019 8:40PM (UTC)

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions may soon try to mount a political comeback.

Sessions, who represented Alabama in the Senate from 1997 until he resigned in 2017 to serve as President Donald Trump's first attorney general, is exploring another run for Senate, according to multiple news outlets.

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It's unclear how seriously Sessions is considering running for his former seat — or how close he is to making a decision. But Sessions faces a looming deadline: He has until 5 p.m. local time on Nov. 8 to decide whether to jump into the 2020 Senate race.

Sessions' former seat is currently held by Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., who defeated controversial former Judge Roy Moore, a Republican, during the 2017 special election. Jones, the first Democrat to represent the Yellowhammer State in 25 years, is considered the most vulnerable incumbent in the U.S. Senate.

Republicans see retaking the Alabama seat in the once-reliably red state as a top priority in 2020. If he runs, Sessions would enter a crowded primary field that already includes Moore, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, among others. Sessions would likely become the front-runner, clearing out most of the primary field.

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Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump's 2016 campaign. Though he was an early supporter of the president, he has endured public scorching from Trump ever since he recused himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Following his recusal, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the investigation. Rosenstein appointed former special counsel Robert Mueller, who conducted the nearly two-year probe referred to by Trump as a "witch hunt."

"The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself . . . I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined . . . and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!" Trump tweeted in June 2018.

Sessions was ultimately forced out of his role in November 2018, a day after the midterm elections in which Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives and Republicans expanded their slim majority in the Senate.

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How Trump's repeated criticism would influence a Sessions campaign remains unknown.

Despite nearly two years of being admonished by Trump, Sessions, who has largely stayed out of the public eye since his unceremonious departure, reiterated his support for the president in a speech earlier this month.

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"I still do support him," Sessions said. "He is relentlessly and actually honoring the promises he made to the American people."

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said Tuesday that he thinks Trump and Sessions would "look past some of their differences" if it meant his former attorney general could recapture help Republicans maintain control of the upper chamber by recapturing his old Senate seat.

"I think, in the end, it's going to be dependent on winning that seat, and I think the president will be very interested in having a Republican majority in the Senate," Thune told reporters on Capitol Hill. "And if Sen. Sessions looks like the person that can move that seat into our column, then I'm guessing they will probably look past some of their differences."

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Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, praised Sessions as "someone who I think can win in Alabama." He added, "He obviously has a lot of experience and seniority he brings to the campaign, and then if he's successful can add to the Senate."


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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