Senate Republicans have made it very clear that firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions would mark the beginning of the end for Trump in their eyes.
After a week-long besmirching of Sessions’ character and conduct as attorney general, including accusations that he is “weak” and “beleaguered,” onlookers believe Trump may be trying to push out his former ally and replace him with someone who would consider firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump’s camp has been steadfast that he is “disappointed” in the AG for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions has handled the negativity like someone who knows he has the backing of Republican leadership.
In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Sessions called the criticism “kind of hurtful” but showed an admirable level of understanding in the president’s thought process.
“He has had a lot of criticisms, and he’s steadfastly determined to get his job done, and he wants all of us to do our jobs, and that’s what I intend to do,” he said.
“I understand his feelings about it because this has been a big distraction for him,” Sessions said when asked about his recusal. “I am confident I made the right decision, the decision that is consistent for the rule of law,” he added.
Senate Republicans are now dismissing at every turn the notion of a Sessions firing. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said there is “no room” in the congressional calendar for an attorney general nomination hearing.
“If you’re thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the attorney general, forget about it,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
But the most outspoken lawmaker against a Sessions dismissal has undoubtedly been Sen. Linsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is working to legislate checks on the president’s ability to unilaterally make decisions regarding Russia sanctions and the Russia investigation as a whole.
“We need a check and balance here,” said Graham. The wording of his bill is very directly saying “a special counsel cannot be fired when they were impaneled to investigate the president or his team unless you have judicial review of the firing.” He said the law would apply to future presidents, not just Trump.
Graham has been fearless and adamant in his stance on the president’s conduct, using language that raises the political stakes.
“If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay,” said Mr. Graham. “Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.”
As currently constituted, President Trump’s main pathway to ridding himself of Mueller would be to simply ask the Justice Department, which operates under the rather loose qualifications for terminating employees of “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause.”
But Graham warned that he will not stand for Trump manipulating the Justice Department and “turning democracy upside down.” Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) is reportedly working in tandem with Graham to craft the legislation, showing a continued bipartisan front on most matters Russia.
In January, the GOP senate worked out a plan that would effectively prohibit the president from making any appointments to his administration that would bypass Senate confirmation while they were out on recess.
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