SEVERE WX : Red Flag Warning View Alerts

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions praises Trump in announcing run for his old US Senate seat

From his work as an Alabama attorney to his time as President Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions has had a long career filled with controversy.

Posted: Nov 8, 2019 5:40 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2019 5:40 AM

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a campaign for his old Alabama Senate seat on Thursday, betting that President Donald Trump will not be able to break the bond that Sessions built with the state's voters over two decades.

The announcement came a year after Trump fired Sessions from his dream job, and their relationship will now be a determining factor in the race.

Sessions addressed it head-on in a video launching his campaign, saying Trump has "my strong support." He then expressed his loyalty to the President by noting that he did not attack Trump despite his former boss' withering, public criticism.

"When I left President Trump's Cabinet, did I write a tell-all book," asked Sessions. "No. Did I go on CNN and attack the President? Nope. Have I said a cross word about our President? Not one time."

Sessions said that would've been "dishonorable," adding he "was there to serve his agenda, not mine."

While Sessions has been beloved in Alabama — his last Senate campaign in 2014 was unopposed — Trump commands higher approval ratings there than just about any other state. And the President spent months criticizing his first attorney general, personal attacks that could very well sway the party's primary on March 3.

But Sessions did not leave on good terms. Trump never forgave the Alabamian's decision to recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, citing his role on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Sessions' argument did not sway the President, who repeatedly criticized him for the probe, which former special counsel Robert Mueller took over after Trump fired FBI director James Comey. The President's condemnation rose to the point that for months Sessions carried a resignation letter with him in his pocket when he went to the White House, according to the Mueller report.

In November 2018, Trump fired Sessions and wished him well. But the attacks continued. A month after the firing, he tweeted, "Jeff Sessions should be ashamed of himself for allowing this total HOAX to get started in the first place!"

Other Republican candidates are already pitching themselves as better stewards of Trump's political brand. Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, US Rep. Bradley Byrne, Secretary of State John Merrill, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, State Rep. Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair are all running for the party's nomination.

Tuberville took a shot at Sessions on Wednesday, calling him a has-been who lost his opportunity to defend Trump.

"As Attorney General, Jeff Sessions had his chance to have President Trump's back and take on the establishment politicians and he failed," he said. "I will bring a new voice for Alabama to the Senate and I will always have President Trump's back."

But other Alabama Republicans said Sessions still holds political power in the state. GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said that he would "absolutely" endorse Sessions, calling him a "formidable candidate."

"Jeff Sessions is a friend," said Shelby. "I worked with him every day up here for 20 years. He's a man of integrity.

Merrill told CNN that if Sessions got in the race, he'd be the frontrunner due to long experience representing Alabama in the Senate.

"No doubt about it," said Merrill. "He held the seat for 20 years."

The race is Republicans' best opportunity to add to their 53-person majority in the Senate. In 2017, Democrat Doug Jones, a US attorney, beat former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who faced allegations that he sexual assaulted teenage girls in his 30s -- charges Moore vehemently denied. Moore also was twice removed from the bench, for refusing a federal order to remove a Ten Commandment monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building and for ordering judges to not heed the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.

While Moore is running again for Senate, many Republican strategists hope the party will nominate another candidate. The Senate Republican campaign arm has taken an-anyone-but-Roy-Moore approach.

"I'm not going to get involved in a primary, other than to say that I certainly don't want to see Roy Moore be the candidate," said Sen. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who is close enough to Sessions that she introduced him before his 2017 nomination hearing to lead the Department of Justice.

Sen. John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said he talked to Sessions in person a couple days ago about his hope his former colleague and the President can repair their relationship.

"I told him I hope he and the President can work out their differences, because I think if not it's going to be a pretty miserable experience," said Cornyn. "I told him what he already knew."

Some top Republican officials are expressing their exasperation at Sessions over his decision to jump into the Alabama Senate race, fearing that internal party dispute could help reelect Jones. The Democrat has over $5 million on hand, the most of any candidate in the Senate race, according to the latest filings. Byrne has over $2.5 million, Sessions has over $2.4 million and Tuberville has over $1.4 million.

At a breakfast meeting on Thursday with about 50 lobbyists and others, officials from the National Republican Senatorial Committee openly voiced their concern about Sessions, according to two people in the room. The frustration was not rooted in dislike for the longtime senator, but rather the uncertainty over Trump's reaction to his former attorney general.

Sessions has not returned calls from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, two officials tell CNN, and is keeping counsel with a tight group of longtime advisers and friends.

"There is no one the President hates more and if he's the nominee and Trump continues to dump on him, Jones could be reelected," one Republican official told the crowd.

Sessions' announcement came one day before Alabama's filing deadline — and two days before Trump heads to Tuscaloosa for the University of Alabama-Louisiana State University football game.

Jones told CNN that he'll go to the game with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat and childhood friend of Alabama coach Nick Saban.

"It's going to be bedlam," Jones said.

This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2572
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38352591
Washington25592233
Marion22026306
Clackamas17440214
Lane13007148
Jackson10862139
Deschutes896274
Umatilla820284
Linn492969
Yamhill446376
Klamath441164
Polk375752
Malheur351863
Josephine334570
Douglas327271
Benton310019
Jefferson219837
Coos206633
Columbia174427
Union144823
Lincoln137921
Wasco137728
Hood River118730
Crook111322
Morrow110716
Clatsop9858
Baker95414
Tillamook6493
Curry6469
Grant5095
Lake4517
Harney3448
Wallowa1845
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3764405

Reported Deaths: 62573
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123645624067
Riverside2994554594
San Bernardino2967824715
San Diego2785913729
Orange2709835026
Santa Clara1190642096
Kern1091771374
Sacramento1048401686
Fresno1018381688
Alameda879401657
Ventura810011013
San Joaquin732201391
Contra Costa68741805
Stanislaus621421061
Tulare49654839
Monterey43613383
San Mateo42038568
San Francisco36720544
Santa Barbara34337456
Solano32953252
Merced31898460
Sonoma30035320
Imperial28443726
Kings22989246
Placer22679292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16462242
Santa Cruz16264207
Marin14056227
Yolo13910210
Shasta12152226
Butte12026199
El Dorado10168112
Napa987082
Sutter9433112
Yuba626847
San Benito606563
Lassen570624
Tehama557262
Nevada474275
Tuolumne413166
Mendocino410149
Humboldt404641
Amador365847
Lake347643
Glenn239125
Colusa223416
Siskiyou223424
Calaveras212954
Inyo142838
Del Norte13938
Mono12844
Plumas7106
Modoc4994
Mariposa4487
Trinity4005
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned520
Medford
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 79°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 57°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 79°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 76°
Thunderstorm threat, critical fire danger this afternoon
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Friday, May 14 morning weather

Image

Day two of manslaughter trial in fatal Medford road rage case

Image

Special bond fuels Abramson and Armantrout's CCC title run

Image

Thursday, May 13th Evening Weather

Image

HealthWatch: Signs and symptoms of a stroke

Image

HealthWatch: The importance of donating blood

Image

Pet of the Week: Cohen and Whiskers

Image

Thursday, May 13 morning weather

Image

Take a Hike: Panorama Point

Image

Take a Hike: Twilight Trail