Local political leaders defend Sessions

Published 3:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2017

Local political leaders are defending Attorney General Jeff Sessions after President Donald Trump went to social media to criticize the former Senator from Alabama.

Sessions was the first leading elected Republican to endorse Trump’s candidacy, and became one of his most loyal supporters. But Trump’s view of him changed after Sessions belatedly admitted to meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the campaign and recused himself from the intensifying federal investigation into election meddling.

On Twitter, Trump called Sessions “beleaguered,” accused him of having a “VERY WEAK position on Hillary Clinton crimes,” and alleged that he’s ignoring conflicts of interest in the Justice Department. Asked whether he intends to fire Sessions or push him to resign, the president told a reporter that “time will tell.”

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Donna Horn, chair of the Pike County Republican party, said she believes Sessions acted appropriately in recusing himself from the investigation.

“I have the utmost respect for Jeff Sessions and I think that he is doing and will continue to do a fantastic job as Attorney General,” Horn said. “I do think he was right to recuse himself. I think had he not recused himself, the American public would never be satisfied that they knew the truth.”

Although Trump’s fury has been consistently pointed at Session’s recusal, Horn said she believes there’s more going on.

“I honestly believe in my heart this is frustration coming out over a lot of different things from Donald Trump,” Horn said. “I think Trump knew Sessions was an honorable man and would do the honorable thing.”

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, also released a statement standing behind Sessions.

“I know Jeff Sessions to be a man of great character and sound judgment,” Roby said. “His decision to recuse himself was the right thing to do, not just for himself, but for the Administration.

“This country needs Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. We have done more to crack down on illegal immigration in the last six months than in the past eight years. We are addressing problems like violent crime and human trafficking. Congress finally has a partner at the Department of Justice who is willing to enforce laws as they are written.”

Shirley Reddoch, president of the Pike County Republican Women said firing Sessions would be a bad move for Trump, but she doesn’t see that happening.

“I think that Jeff Sessions is one of the best friends that Donald Trump has,” Reddoch said. “I really kind of think that this is not serious and that this might be some type of ploy because Jeff Sessions has always made great decisions and he loves this Attorney General job. We’ve just got to wait and let them work it out between themselves.”

If not a ploy though and Trump actually followed through and fired Sessions, Reddoch said it could have a big impact on Repbulicans in the area.

“I think they would really turn on Donald Trump,” Reddoch said. “I just don’t see (Sessions being fired). In my opinion what’s going to happen is that nothing’s happened between Donald Trump and the Russians and he’s going to come out smelling like a rose and their relationship is going to be stronger than ever.”

With the special election for Sessions’ former seat on the U.S Senate less than a month away, candidate U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks said supporting Sessions now “is the right thing for Alabama and America.”

“I support President Trump’s policies, but this public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama who know Jeff Sessions so well and elected him so often by overwhelming margins,” Brooks said.

Brooks even offered to step aside and encouraged his rivals — Sen. Luther Strange, who now holds the seat by appointment, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore — to step aside as well to enable Sessions to return to the Senate.

Horn said that whatever happens, she wants Sessions to continue in a role that can help Alabama citizens.

“If it’s something they cannot work out and it interferes with (Sessions’) ability to do his job, I would hope he would find another way to serve the people of Alabama,” Horn said. “I do hope they work it out though.”