Maybe the trouble between Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump all boils down to marbles.
Certainly it would be hard to blame Sessions for wondering if the president has lost his. Jeff may even wonder about the status of his own marble collection after throwing away a locked-down United States Senate seat for what’s bound to be a short-lived stint as Trump’s attorney general/whipping boy.
On the flip side, Trump also thinks Sessions may be hiding marbles in his mouth, if recent reports of the president making fun of his AG’s Southern accent and non-Ivy League law degree are true.
What it must be like for Jeff Sessions these days as he lies awake at night, the bed spinning, wondering how he landed in a situation where he’s just marking time until he is publicly humiliated one last time and fired. Probably via tweet.
It can’t feel good knowing a guy whose most G-rated catchphrase is “You’re fired!” is openly talking about canning you from the dream job that was your reward for being the first big-time politician to support his run for the Oval Office. There just have to be times when a particularly applicable lyric to the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” echoes through Sessions’ mind. “My God … What have I done!” (Assuming Sessions likes Talking Heads.)
The writing is on the wall. Alabama’s former junior U.S. Senator is not long for Trump World. The president has long been furious with Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives to gain damaging information on Hillary Clinton in the last election. But that anger has publicly spilled over again and again, recently to the point that some of Sessions’ former colleagues in the “upper chamber” are talking about his ouster after November’s midterms.
Right now Sessions is living the Washington version of having your high school girlfriend running around telling everyone she’s about to break up with you before she actually does. (That happens to everyone, right?) In this case it’s even worse than just feeling everyone’s eyes on you in the cafeteria.
Trump’s tweet a few days ago essentially blaming Sessions for helping possibly lose the Republican majority in the House by indicting two congressmen accused of serious criminal behavior was a sure sign the bromance is dead.
“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” Trump tweeted. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…”
If it’s not enough to have the president calling him out because a couple of highly questionable swamp-dwelling Congressmen were indicted, Sessions has also had to suffer through two new reports of highly personal insults allegedly coming from his boss.
Politico reported last week that Trump has been conducting a campaign among Sessions’ former Republican Senate colleagues to trash the AG and build consensus for firing him. To some degree it appears to have worked, as Sen. Lindsey Graham has publicly said the relationship between the two men is irreparably broken, and privately is reported to have urged Trump to wait until after November’s elections to fire him.
The report also claims Trump, true to form, has also expressed his displeasure with Sessions in more grade-school terms.
“If Sessions’ recusal was his original sin, Trump has come to resent him for other reasons, griping to aides and lawmakers that the attorney general doesn’t have the Ivy League pedigree the president prefers, that he can’t stand his Southern accent and that Sessions isn’t a capable defender of the president on television — in part because he ‘talks like he has marbles in his mouth,’” the Politico piece says, quoting unnamed presidential aides.
Naturally some of those reports are already being rejected as “fake news,” but on Monday the first excerpts from famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump White House bolsters them a bit with yet another story of a blistering personal attack on Sessions by the president.
“This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama,” Trump is alleged to have said while mocking Sessions’ accent, according to a passage in Woodward’s book “Fear.”
It all seems like a lifetime ago when Sessions stepped out on that stage in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in August 2015 before a crowd of 17,000 people — if you were actually there, like I was — or 70,000 people if you want to believe the hype. Alabama’s junior senator made national news that day by slapping on a MAGA cap and endorsing Trump. As Trump proceeded to babble incoherently after that, I wondered if Sessions might have been rethinking his endorsement. I bet he is now.
Trump’s attacks on Sessions have managed to do one positive thing for the AG: they’ve turned him from the Left’s most hated Trump cabinet member to something of a hero after he barked back at the president last month and let him know the Justice Department wasn’t going to be bullied. The whole enemy of my enemy is my friend thing, I suppose.
Sessions probably isn’t much different from the parade of other Trump administration officials who thought they were coming to help Make America Great Again, only to find themselves fired or resigning a short time later and being publicly ridiculed in the process. At least — thus far — Sessions doesn’t appear to be heading for post-employment residence in a federal penitentiary like so many other Trump officials, so that’s a win.
The public destruction of Jeff Sessions may not have much resonance for the rest of the country, pockets of which may agree with Trump’s assessment of his mental limitations and accent, but it’s hard to imagine there’s not at least some sting here in Alabama among the Trump faithful. Sessions was a fairly popular conservative senator and many Alabamians were excited to see him take over at Justice.
Now he’s being blasted for not letting criminal congressmen slide, called “retarded” and having his Southern accent mocked. In personally trashing Sessions, Trump is treading dangerously close to revealing his overall disdain for a state that overwhelmingly helped put him in office. His only saving grace is that he just peed all over The University of Alabama law school and not the football team.
It seems like only a matter of when, not if, Jeff Sessions is sent packing to write the obligatory tell-all book about his nightmarish time as Trump’s attorney general. It should at least be a damn sight better than Omarosa’s.
And Jeff, if you’re looking for a name, might I suggest, “All the Marbles.”