Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Alabama Senate colleague said if he was in Sessions’ shoes he’d resign rather than be President Trump’s “whipping boy.”
Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) comments to Fox came after Trump tweeted anger with Sessions today about the attorney general following Justice Department protocol to investigate whether, as claimed by the House Intelligence Committee chairman’s recent memo, department staff committed FISA abuses while investigating former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” Trump tweeted this morning.
At the conclusion of a White House meeting with lawmakers today, Trump did not answer reporters’ questions about whether he still had confidence in Sessions.
Sessions replied in a statement that he “initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary.”
“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 added.
Shelby told Fox News that his former fellow senator needs the support of the president, “when you’re the attorney general and when you’re the secretary State or when you’re the Treasury secretary.”
“Loyalty is a double-edged sword. If the president is loyal to him and vice versa, you generally have got a smooth relationship. But you have got a troubled relationship there. And you have had for a long time,” Shelby said.
Though Trump reportedly harbors anger over Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then appointed special counsel Robert Mueller — the senator said he believes Sessions “had no option other than to recuse himself.”
“I wouldn’t stay at all, unless the president wanted me to stay, and he appointed me. I wouldn’t be under anybody’s — I wouldn’t be anybody’s whipping boy,” Shelby said of Sessions’ current circumstances. “I wouldn’t be belittled, because the president is saying you don’t have any confidence in me. So, that is Jeff’s challenge right now, and what he wants to do and how he does it. And he’s a good man. He’s going through a lot and he has got a lot of challenges.”
“…Ultimately, it’s going to be up to whether the attorney general wants to stay in the job and be belittled by the president, his boss who put him there, or does he want to leave. That’s a decision he will have to make.”