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The “Adult Day-Care Centre” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…

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Author Topic: The “Adult Day-Care Centre” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…  (Read 101 times)
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« on: October 09, 2017, 08:41:02 pm »

from The Washington Post....

Bob Corker Says Trump's Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’

The powerful Republican senator's remarks in an interview capped a
remarkable day of sulfurous insults between him and the president.

By JONATHAN MARTIN and MARK LANDLER | Sunday, October 08, 2017

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, last week in Washington D.C. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.
Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, last week in Washington D.C.
 — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he's doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Mr. Corker's comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator — a powerful, if lame-duck, lawmaker, whose support will be critical to the president on tax reform and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.

It began on Sunday morning when Mr. Trump, posting on Twitter, accused Mr. Corker of deciding not to run for re-election because he “didn't have the guts.” Mr. Corker shot back in his own tweet: “It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The senator, Mr. Trump said, had “begged” for his endorsement. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” the president wrote. He also said that Mr. Corker had asked to be secretary of state. “I said ‘NO THANKS’,” he wrote.

Mr. Corker flatly disputed that account, saying Mr. Trump had urged him to run again, and promised to endorse him if he did. But the exchange laid bare a deeper rift: The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.

Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.

The deeply personal back-and-forth will almost certainly rupture what had been a friendship with a fellow real estate developer turned elected official, one of the few genuine relationships Mr. Trump had developed on Capitol Hill. Still, even as he leveled his stinging accusations, Mr. Corker repeatedly said on Sunday that he liked Mr. Trump, until now an occasional golf partner, and wished him “no harm.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Corker's remarks.

Mr. Trump's feud with Mr. Corker is particularly perilous given that the president has little margin for error as he tries to pass a landmark overhaul of the tax code — his best, and perhaps last, hope of producing a major legislative achievement this year.

If Senate Democrats end up unified in opposition to the promised tax bill, Mr. Trump could lose the support of only two of the Senate's 52 Republicans to pass it. That is the same challenging math that Mr. Trump and Senate Republican leaders faced in their failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Corker could also play a key role if Mr. Trump follows through on his threat to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal, kicking to Congress the issue of whether to restore sanctions on Tehran and effectively scuttle the pact.

Republicans could hold off on sanctions but use the threat of them to force Iran back to the negotiating table — a strategy being advocated by Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican. But that approach could leave the United States isolated, and it will be up to Mr. Corker to balance opposition to the deal with the wishes of those, including some of Mr. Trump's own aides, who want to change the accord but not blow it up.

Beyond the Iran deal, Mr. Corker's committee holds confirmation hearings on Mr. Trump's ambassadorial appointments. If the president were to oust Rex W. Tillerson as secretary of state, as some expect, Mr. Corker would lead the hearings on Mr. Trump's nominee for the post.

In a 25-minute conversation, Mr. Corker, speaking carefully and purposefully, seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private.

The senator, who is close to Mr. Tillerson, invoked comments that the president made on Twitter last weekend in which he appeared to undercut Mr. Tillerson's negotiations with North Korea.

“A lot of people think that there is some kind of ‘good cop, bad cop’ act underway, but that's just not true,” Mr. Corker said.

Without offering specifics, he said Mr. Trump had repeatedly undermined diplomacy with his Twitter fingers. “I know he has hurt, in several instances, he's hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Mr. Corker said.

All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we're dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we're dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

As for the tweets that set off the feud on Sunday morning, Mr. Corker expressed a measure of powerlessness.

“I don't know why the president tweets out things that are not true,” he said. “You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”

The senator recalled four conversations this year, a mix of in-person meetings and phone calls, in which he said the president had encouraged him to run for re-election. Mr. Trump, he said, repeatedly indicated he wanted to come to Tennessee for an early rally on Mr. Corker's behalf and even telephoned him last Monday to try to get him to reconsider his decision to retire.

“When I told him that that just wasn't in the cards, he said, ‘You know, if you run, I'll endorse you’. I said, ‘Mr. President, it's just not in the cards; I've already made a decision’. So then we began talking about other candidates that were running.”

One of the most prominent establishment-aligned Republicans to develop a relationship with Mr. Trump, the senator said he did not regret standing with him during the campaign last year.

“I would compliment him on things that he did well, and I'd criticize things that were inappropriate,” he said. “So it's been really the same all the way through.”

A former mayor of Chattanooga who became wealthy in construction, Mr. Corker, 65, has carved out a reputation over two terms in the Senate as a reliable, but not overly partisan, Republican.

While he opposed President Barack Obama's divisive nuclear deal with Iran, he did not prevent it from coming to a vote on the Senate floor, which exposed him to fierce fire from conservatives, who blamed him for its passage.

Mr. Trump picked up on that theme hours after his initial tweets, writing that “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that's about it. We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!”

Mr. Corker was briefly a candidate to be Mr. Trump's running mate in 2016, but he withdrew his name from consideration and later expressed ambivalence about Mr. Trump's campaign, in part because he said he found it frustrating to discuss foreign policy with him.

To some extent, the rift between the two men had been building for months, as Mr. Corker repeatedly pointed out on Sunday to argue that his criticism was not merely that of a man liberated from facing the voters again.

After a report last week that Mr. Tillerson had once referred to Mr. Trump as a “moron,” Mr. Corker told reporters that Mr. Tillerson was one of three officials helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Those remarks were repeated on “Fox News Sunday”, which may have prompted Mr. Trump's outburst.

In August, after Mr. Trump's equivocal response to the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, Mr. Corker told reporters that the president “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

He said on Sunday that he had made all those comments deliberately, aiming them at “an audience of one, plus those people who are closely working around with him, what I would call the good guys.” He was referring to Mr. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

“As long as there are people like that around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we'll be fine,” he said.

Mr. Corker would not directly answer when asked whether he thought Mr. Trump was fit for the presidency. But he did say that the commander in chief was not fully aware of the power of his office.

“I don't think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he's addressing,” he said. “And so, yeah, it's concerning to me.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York, and Thomas Kaplan and Noah Weiland from Washington.

• Jonathan Martin is a national political correspondent for The New York Times. Before joining The Times, he had served as senior political writer for Politico since its inception in 2007. He began covering politics for National Journal's political publication, The Hotline, and then reported on party politics and the aftermath of the 2006 mid-term elections for National Review magazine.  Mr. Martin is a co-author of The New York Times best seller The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: The 34 Days That Decided the Election (December 2012), the fourth and final e-book in Politico's 2012 series on the race for the presidency. His work has been published in The New Republic, National Journal, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared frequently on television and radio as a political analyst and commentator, including on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, MSNBC and NPR. Originally from Arlington, Virginia, Mr. Martin graduated from Hampden-Sydney College.

• Mark Landler is a White House correspondent at The New York Times. In 24 years at The Times, he has been diplomatic correspondent, bureau chief in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, European economic correspondent, and a business reporter in New York. He is the author of Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle over American Power (Random House).

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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 05:10:57 pm »

from The Washington Post....

A ‘pressure cooker’: Trump's frustration and fury
rupture alliances, threaten agenda

The president is feuding with some lawmakers and angry about criticism
of his administration's hurricane response.

By ROBERT COSTA, PHILIP RUCKER and ASHLEY PARKER | 7:37PM EDT - Monday, October 09, 2017

Senator Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee) called the White House “an adult day care center,” but he isn't the only senator who has questioned President Trump's temperament. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
Senator Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee) called the White House “an adult day care center,” but he isn't the only senator
who has questioned President Trump's temperament. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

FRUSTRATED by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said on Monday.

In a matter of days, Trump has torched bridges all around him, nearly imploded an informal deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and plunged himself into the culture wars on issues ranging from birth control to the national anthem.

In doing so, Trump is laboring to solidify his standing with his populist base and return to the comforts of his campaign — especially after the embarrassing defeat of Senator Luther Strange (Republican) in last month's Alabama special election, despite the president's trip there to campaign with the senator.

Senator Bob Corker's brutal assessment of Trump's fitness for office — warning that the president's reckless behavior could launch the nation “on the path to World War III” — also hit like a thunderclap inside the White House, where aides feared possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.

After a caustic volley of Twitter insults between Trump and Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, few GOP leaders came to the president's defense on Monday — though few sided openly with Corker, either. The most vocal Trump defender was the one under the president's employ, Vice President Pence.

Trump in recent days has shown flashes of fury and left his aides, including White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, scrambling to manage his outbursts. He has been frustrated in particular with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was reported last week to have earlier called the president a “moron”. Trump's Sunday morning Twitter tirade against Corker caught staffers by surprise, although the president had been brooding over the senator's comment a few days earlier about Trump's “chaos” endangering the nation.

One Trump confidant likened the president to a whistling teapot, saying that when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode. “I think we are in pressure cooker territory,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.

This portrait of the president increasingly isolated in the capital city is based on interviews with 18 White House officials, outside advisers and other Trump associates.

In a late-afternoon, unsolicited email to reporters on Monday, Pence's office blasted out a blanket response under the vice president's name addressing “criticisms of the president”. The statement bemoaned “empty rhetoric and baseless attacks” against Trump while touting his handling of global threats, from Islamic State terrorists to North Korea.

“That's what American leadership on the world stage looks like and no amount of criticism at home can diminish those results,” the statement concluded.

But Pence's words did little to reassure some Trump allies, who fear that the president's feud with Corker could cause more trouble for the administration and further unravel threadbare relationships on Capitol Hill.

One Trump loyalist — noting that Corker has many more friends in the Senate than Trump does — said the rift could dash chances for a tax law overhaul or other meaningful legislation. “His presidency could be doomed,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to alienate the president or his staff.

“We have been watching the slow-motion breakup of the Republican Party, and Trump is doing what he can to speed it up,” said Patrick Caddell, a veteran pollster who has worked with Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, who now runs Breitbart News, a conservative website.

“Trump is firmly placing himself on the outside, trying to become an almost independent president,” Caddell said. “He knows that many people will be with him, that he helps himself when he's not seen as the Republican president. But what about his program? That's the question — and possibly the cost of what he's doing.”

White House chief of staff John F. Kelly follows President Trump as he walks across the South Lawn to board Marine One at the White House on September 27th. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
White House chief of staff John F. Kelly follows President Trump as he walks across the South Lawn to board Marine One
at the White House on September 27th. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

Inside the White House, reaction to Corker's comments has been mixed. Some Trump aides believe it is dangerous for the president to fight with Corker, the chairman of a powerful Senate committee who is not running for re-election and therefore feels he has nothing to lose.

Other Trump aides blame Corker for what they consider an act of betrayal, arguing that he started the feud in a bid for relevance by a lame-duck lawmaker. They also accuse Corker of hypocrisy, noting that he was chummy with Trump and did not voice any concerns about his leadership style when he thought he might be picked as vice president or secretary of state.

Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax and a Trump friend, said: “Donald Trump never truly severs relationships. There is always a dialogue. And with Corker, this isn't a total endpoint. Trump sees relationships as negotiations, and that's what they're in.”

Many in the White House say they appreciate the disciplined structure Kelly has implemented, but it has left Trump without the free-flowing conversations with staff and outsiders that he had come to relish. These familiar faces often buoyed Trump's mood and gave him a safe sounding board, even if they at times interfered with the workings of the government.

Trump is also without his long-time aide-de-camp and former head of security, Keith Schiller, who departed the White House this fall as director of Oval Office operations. Schiller was a constant at Trump's side for years and was adept at soothing his foul moods. His absence has left Trump with few generational peers with whom he feels comfortable venting about his staff or his rivals, or just talking about sports, according to some of the president's friends.

Trump, meanwhile, has been seeking regular counsel from friends outside the government, including investor Thomas J. Barrack Jr., who chaired his inauguration.

Among some in Trump's circle, Barrack has been buzzed about as a possible replacement for Kelly, should tensions between the president and his top aide become unsustainable. But people familiar with Barrack's thinking said he feels he can best serve Trump as a friend and outside adviser, rather than as a member of the White House staff.

The president has given no indication publicly that he is mulling another change and over the weekend heaped praise on Kelly. “John Kelly is one of the best people I've ever worked with,” Trump told reporters on Saturday. “He's doing an incredible job, and he told me for the last two months he loves it more than anything he's ever done…. He will be here, in my opinion, for the entire seven remaining years.”

Still, Trump is facing political head winds, including from his base. The Alabama Senate primary last month, in which a far-right challenger defeated a more establishment Republican whom the president had endorsed, served as a warning flare for Trump's team, highlighting the risk he could run if he alienates the core supporters who helped lift him to electoral victory.

The president has groused to numerous White House aides about his concerns over his popularity with “my people” — his base. He blames the Republican establishment and others for failing to enact his agenda and making him look feckless, and is unhappy with losing in Alabama, according to people briefed on White House deliberations.

Trump also made it known to several people that he wished to have a rally in North Carolina over the weekend and not just a fundraiser — but he ultimately flew down for only the fundraiser, spending just two hours on the ground in Greensboro. Trump complained that he wished he had gotten back out in front of the rowdy crowds he loves, these people said.

“Donald Trump got elected with minority support from the American electorate, and most of his efforts thus far are focused on energizing and solidifying the 40 percent of Americans who were with him, primarily by attacking the 60 percent who were not,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “That is great for his supporters, but it makes it very difficult to accomplish anything in a democracy.”

Trump's political calculus is complicated by Bannon's return to his previous role at the helm of Breitbart. Now working to forward a nationalist agenda from outside the confines of the administration, Bannon has vowed war against any Republican lawmakers he believes are insufficiently conservative or who fail to help push through the agenda he and Trump outlined during the campaign.

Bannon is recruiting GOP primary challengers in nearly all of the 2018 Senate races, looking for candidates who could defeat Republicans he views as too establishment and highlight the president's stances on issues such as immigration and trade.

The White House effort to woo back the populist wing of the party after stumbling in the Alabama race has been mixed. When Trump advisers contacted Breitbart writers on Sunday to highlight a list of hard-line immigration principles the administration had just released, there was little enthusiasm for the White House's outreach and skepticism of Trump's commitment to combating illegal immigration, according to two people familiar with the exchanges.

Even the Trump family has become a flash point. On Monday, the president's first and third wives — Ivana and Melania, respectively — engaged in a public spat.

In an interview with ABC's “Good Morning America” to promote her new book, Raising Trump, Ivana Trump, the mother of the president's three eldest children, said: “I'm basically first Trump wife. Okay? I'm first lady.”

The actual first lady, Melania Trump, did not let the slight go unanswered. Her spokeswoman at the White House, Stephanie Grisham, issued a statement dismissing Ivana's comments as “attention-seeking and self-serving noise.”

• Robert Costa is a national political reporter at The Washington Post.

• Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. He previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He joined The Post in 2005 as a local news reporter.

• Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at The New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: A list of senators who have questioned Trump's temperament

 • VIDEO: What you need to know about Trump's Twitter feud with Coker

 • For some foreign diplomats, the Trump White House is a troubling enigma

 • The Daily 202: Bob Corker tirade encapsulates five reasons why Trump has failed at governing

 • Trump attacks Corker, who responds by calling the White House an ‘adult day care’

 • ‘Death spiral’: Tillerson makes nice but may not last long with Trump

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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 02:55:33 pm »

from The Washington Post....

Trump challenges Tillerson to an ‘IQ test’.
The White House claims it was ‘a joke’.

After the secretary of state calls Trump a “moron,” the president says,
“I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests.”

By PHILIP RUCKER | 6:31PM EDT - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walks behind President Trump after answering questions from journalists at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 11th. — Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walks behind President Trump after answering questions from journalists at Trump National Golf Club
in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 11th. — Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press.

PRESIDENT TRUMP and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried on Tuesday to smooth over tensions in their relationship during a White House lunch after the president proposed an “IQ tests” faceoff with his top diplomat, who earlier had privately called Trump a “moron” and disparaged his grasp of foreign policy.

In an interview with Forbes magazine published on Tuesday morning, Trump fired a shot at Tillerson over the “moron” revelation, first reported by NBC News and confirmed by several other news organizations, including The Washington Post.

“I think it's fake news,” Trump said, “but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later insisted that Trump's comment was “a joke and nothing more than that.”

“The president certainly never implied that the secretary of state was not incredibly intelligent,” Sanders said in Tuesday afternoon's news briefing. She added that Trump has “100 percent confidence” in Tillerson and admonished reporters for taking the president's comment so seriously.

“Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime,” she quipped.

Regardless of whether Trump was trying to make a joke, his “IQ tests” challenge is the latest evidence of what White House officials have described as a breach of trust between the president and the secretary of state.

President Trump talks to former secretary of state Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office on Tuesday. — Photograph: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.
President Trump talks to former secretary of state Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
 — Photograph: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.

Although Trump has said publicly that he has confidence in Tillerson, as he did on Tuesday, behind the scenes, he has long been brooding about the diplomat's job performance, according to administration officials and outside advisers. Trump has been frustrated by what he sees as the secretary's traditionalist worldview — on a host of issues, from Iran to North Korea — in contrast to the president's desire to redefine America's role around the globe.

Helping soothe tensions between the two men have been White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who both have privately stressed the imperative of stability atop the State Department at a critical moment for the nation. Trump is trying to manage the North Korea nuclear crisis and planning an ambitious diplomatic trip to Asia in early November.

Trump met for lunch on Tuesday with Tillerson and Mattis in the president's private dining room at the White House. Sanders characterized the lunch as “a great visit.”

Shortly before the lunch, a reporter asked Trump whether he had undercut Tillerson with his comments to Forbes.

“No, I didn't undercut anybody. I don't believe in undercutting people,” Trump said during a brief media appearance in the Oval Office, as he sat beside former secretary of state Henry Kissinger during a meeting to discuss foreign affairs.

When a reporter asked Trump whether he has confidence in Tillerson as his secretary of state, the president replied, “Yes.”

White House chief of staff John F. Kelly observes Trump's meeting with Kissinger. — Photograph: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.
White House chief of staff John F. Kelly observes Trump's meeting with Kissinger. — Photograph: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.

Over the weekend, reporters asked Trump about his relationship with Tillerson.

“We have a very good relationship,” Trump said on Saturday. “We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes I'd like him to be a little bit tougher. But other than that, we have a very good relationship.”

In the Forbes interview, for the magazine's cover story under the headline “Inside Trump's Head”, the president teases upcoming economic-development legislation “nobody knows about” that would penalize companies that move operations overseas and offer incentives for those that stay in the United States.

Trump previewed what he called “an economic-development bill, which I think will be fantastic. Which nobody knows about. Which you are hearing about for the first time.” The president said the policy is “both a carrot and a stick.”

Trump also told Forbes that he has purposely not filled many jobs throughout the federal government, including at the State Department, where several top positions remain vacant.

“I'm generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don't need them,” Trump said. “I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it's totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people.”

• Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. He previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He joined The Post in 2005 as a local news reporter.


Related to this topic:

 • A brief history of Trump challenging people to IQ tests


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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2018, 10:53:46 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Battered, but still standing

Trump doesn't let up on Sessions. Why does attorney general stay?

By JOSEPH TANFANI | Saturday, March 03, 2018

Jeff Sessions was the first sitting senator to endorse Donald J. Trump for president. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.
Jeff Sessions was the first sitting senator to endorse Donald J. Trump for president. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.

WASHINGTON — Even as President Trump has raged at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling his actions “disgraceful” this week, Sessions arguably has done more to deliver on Trump's hard-right agenda than any other member of the Cabinet.

From immigration enforcement to battling “sanctuary cities,” from opposing marijuana legalization to stopping what Trump labeled “carnage in America” in his inaugural speech, Sessions has proved a stalwart ally, if only because the issues were already part of his own conservative political agenda.

After months of silently enduring Trump's taunts and tweets — mocking the attorney general as “very weak” and “beleaguered,” and all but inviting him to quit — Sessions raised eyebrows this week when he publicly pushed back for the first time.

In a Justice Department statement on Wednesday, Sessions suggested the president had gone too far by questioning his decision to refer an internal dispute over a surveillance warrant to the department's inspector general, as regulations require, rather than to its prosecutors, as Trump had demanded earlier that day on Twitter.

“As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution,” he wrote.

Trump has made no secret of his anger since Sessions stepped aside last March from supervising the Russia investigation that has cast a dark cloud over the White House, a decision that Trump apparently viewed as a betrayal of Sessions' loyalty to him.

Despite Sessions' hard-right bona fides — he was considered one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate during his four terms in office — other conservatives have begun to pile on. Even his one-time Senate colleague from Alabama, fellow Republican Richard C. Shelby, hinted that it might be time for Sessions to walk.

“I wouldn't stay at all unless the president wanted me to stay, if he appointed me,” Shelby said during Thursday on Fox News. “I wouldn't be anybody's whipping boy.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered little in the way of reassurance, saying, “The president has made his frustrations very clear.” Asked whether Trump wants Sessions to resign, she said, “Not that I know of.”

Sessions has shown no sign he's about to give in. Friends and associates say he is willing to endure the abuse to stand up for the Justice Department and the rule of law, and continue his mission of remaking its policies to fit his deeply conservative, tough-on-crime philosophy.

“He's decided he's not going to be run out by the president,” said Armand DeKeyser, Sessions' former chief of staff in the Senate. “He knows the bullets are flying all around him, and at him — most of the time at him. Nothing has been a mortal wound so far. I think he'll keep fighting the good fight and keep doing the best he can to protect the Justice Department.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Sessions spent six years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Alabama before President Reagan nominated him in 1981 to be U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, a job he held for 12 years. Over that time, Sessions developed a strong affection for the Justice Department and its traditions, friends and associates say.

Laurie Robinson, now a law professor at George Mason University, said she grew friendly with Sessions while she worked in the Justice Department and he served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. When she was named an assistant attorney general, Sessions came to her swearing-in and, Robinson said, seemed delighted to be back in the Justice Department building.

“While there are many areas where I don’t agree with him, from a policy standpoint, he's someone I believe is very committed to the mission of the Department of Justice,” Robinson said.

Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump's presidential campaign, and he did so when most of his Senate colleagues and the GOP were openly disdainful. As a key advisor, Sessions strongly supported the harsh anti-immigration message that helped propel Trump to the White House.

“Immigration is [Trump's] thing, it's what he sees as most important — and Sessions is one of the people who is making that happen,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that pushes for lower immigration, both legal and illegal.

As a senator, Sessions was a fierce fighter for the anti-immigration cause, playing a key role in the defeat of two major reform bills, including an ambitious effort in 2013 that had bipartisan support.

“In a sense, the president's attacks on him are the cross he has to bear in order to bring about the changes he thinks are necessary,” said Krikorian, who grades Sessions an “A-plus” on immigration issues important to his group.

Though the Department of Homeland Security handles immigration enforcement, Sessions has utilized nearly every tool available at the Justice Department to support the widening crackdown under the Trump administration.

He has added 50 immigration judges to reduce a backlog that has clogged courts and delayed deportations. He has applied increasing pressure on sanctuary states and cities that don't cooperate with immigration enforcement.

And he has provided Trump with the legal opinion to support the president's decision to end the Obama-era program that deferred deportations for more than 700,000 so-called Dreamers, undocumented migrants who came to the U.S. as children. When Trump decided to rescind the program, it was Sessions who announced it.

Sessions also has moved to reverse Obama administration policies that attempted to end the use of private prisons, pressure cities to reform police practices and roll back long prison sentences.

He has moved to bring back the practice of civil forfeiture, when law enforcement seizes property used in crimes.

With an antipathy to drugs dating to his experience as a prosecutor in the 1970s, Sessions also canceled an Obama administration policy that provided harbor for states that legalized recreational marijuana.

In what could prove one of his most consequential changes, he told prosecutors to once again file the toughest charges possible against defendants in drug cases, scrapping an Obama-era policy by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that encouraged more discretion against low-level offenders.

“The U.S. attorneys pay close attention to what the attorney general says,” says Christy Lopez, a Georgetown Law School professor and former deputy chief of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

“Eric Holder made it known that he wanted every U.S. attorney to pay attention to civil rights,” she said, “This attorney general has made it very clear that he believes marijuana possession and sales should be punished to the greatest extent of law. That's going to be heard as well.”


• Joseph Tanfani covers the Justice Department and Homeland Security in in the Washington, D.C., Los Angeles Times bureau. Before joining the L.A. Times in 2012, he worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter and investigations editor, and at the Miami Herald, the Press of Atlantic City and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

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