Sessions swears loyalty to Trump with Senate


Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Then-U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks at an event hosed by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona. on August 31, 2016.

Jeff Sessions, former attorney general and an early supporter of President Donald Trump, is gunning once again for the former Senate seat that he held for 20 years.

Sessions, an Alabama native, previously held the position from 1997 until 2017. He left to serve as Trump’s attorney general, a position he held for a little over a year-and-a-half before being asked to resign by the president about a year ago.

Sessions’s empty Senate seat was ultimately won in 2017 by Democrat Doug Jones amid a fierce contest with the Republican candidate, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. 

During the race, a number of sexual misconduct allegations were made against Moore, including by women claiming he pursued relationships with them while they were underage.

Jones ultimately became the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate in 21 years. His term ends in January 2021, and he is seeking re-election.

Yulissa Izaguirre, a DePaul student and political science major, said she believes Sessions “played it smart” by refraining from publicly criticizing the president. But she thinks Republican voters will likely be influenced by Trump’s animosity toward him.

“There is a strong chance voters will react to the negative rhetoric Trump has toward Sessions, and most definitely [other] Republican candidates are going to maximize the damage,” she said.

The Associated Press cited a cabinet official and a Republican close to the White House who said the president was irritated by Sessions’ campaign announcement. The sources told the AP Trump “has still been known to disparage the former attorney general in private conversations.”

Some Republicans are concerned about the possibility of a domino effect, as Sessions running again could help Moore reach a runoff election.

Many Republicans are afraid of having Moore take the seat rather than Sessions, or to have Moore be the Republican candidate because of his previous scandals.Sessions could win the seat back, but it might be difficult for him since Trump is unsure if he’ll endorse him.

Lacking the support of other Republicans who are loyal to Trump could also be a difficulty for Sessions. 

Wayne Steger, a DePaul political science professor, believes it’s still too early to tell how Republicans, especially in Alabama, will react if Sessions is chosen for the spot.

“On [the] one hand, they know and generally trust and approve of Sessions in the past,” he said. “On the other hand, there is a possibility that Trump will trash him. But I do not think Trump will do that because Roy Moore is probably the main beneficiary of that.”

Will Sessions be able to court Trump supporters? It depends, Steger said.

“I do not think Sessions will speak ill of Trump, regardless of how he feels about Trump on a personal level,” he said.  He would gain nothing, and doing so could cost him.”

Aimen Shah, an international relations student at Boston University who follows politics closely, said she thinks Republicans will probably vote on party lines and stick with Sessions.

“This is because supporting your party in this polarized climate has become vital politics,” she said. “I think that there are some Republicans who would even respect his past decisions as attorney general.” 

On the other hand, Izaguirre said she believes the voters of Alabama will defend Trump.

“The other part would be that Trump’s opinion has proven to make an impact on voters and it is clear other Republican candidates will not back down because the current Democrat holding the seat has a weak hold on his seat,” she said.