President Donald Trump taunted Jeff Sessions for falling short of winning the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, renewing his criticism of the former attorney general for recusing himself in the federal probe into Russian election meddling.
“This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt,” Trump said in a Wednesday morning tweet. “Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”
Sessions faces a March 31 runoff in the Alabama GOP primary after a close race on Tuesday. Sessions, ousted by Trump from the attorney general’s job in 2018, is trying to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat he held for 20 years. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Democrat Doug Jones.
Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe after coming under fire for not telling Congress about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during Trump’s campaign. Sessions became a target of the president’s open contempt for ceding control of the probe, which was ultimately led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Sessions, 73, will face Tommy Tuberville, a 65-year-old former Auburn football coach, as he tries to reclaim the Alabama Senate seat that the GOP lost to Jones in 2017, according to an AP projection.
Each candidate racked up about a third of the votes in the primary late Tuesday night, short of the majority needed to preclude a runoff.
Tuberville has used Trump’s firing of Sessions in ads and has supported Trump’s plans to “investigate the investigators,” while Sessions has ripped Tuberville on immigration and for previous criticisms of Trump.
Sessions has repeatedly touted his early support for Trump, who is very popular in Alabama, in television ads.
Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump’s 2016 insurgent presidential campaign. But the former federal prosecutor went from being one of Trump’s closest campaign advisers to an outcast. Sessions had held on to his job as the nation’s top law enforcement officer despite frequent bursts of embarrassingly public criticism from Trump.
“I’m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons,” Trump told reporters in 2018, before Sessions was ousted.
Sessions took himself out of decision-making on the Russia probe in March 2017 even after Trump dispatched the White House lawyer to persuade him not to do so. That left then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein overseeing the investigation, and he named Mueller as special counsel.
After recusing himself from the Russia probe, the staunchly conservative Sessions spent his time ramping up efforts to combat violent gangs, drug use and illegal immigration — all key components of Trump’s law-and-order agenda.
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