Trump versus Sessions. Scaramucci versus Priebus. If someone would only pair off against Mike Pence, the White House uncivil war would need a second bag of popcorn.
But Donald Trump is making plans to end his fight with a knockout blow, one to be delivered below the belt.
Still raging over Sessions’s recusal from the Justice Department’s escalating Russia investigation, Trump has been talking privately about how he might replace Sessions and possibly sidestep Senate oversight, four people familiar with the issue said.
In Trump’s mind, the best solution is publicly humiliating his attorney general into resigning before the Senate heads out on its “skinny” August recess, then having everyone come back to Washington to find a new guy already sitting in the chair. But Republican senators are upset with Trump calling out one of their own. In addition to creating an absolutely bizarre plan that would allow Sessions to resume his seat in the Senate, they’re pushing back at Trump out of concern for the only thing they really think is important—themselves. After all, if Trump can go out of his way to hound the first senator to back his campaign, what can the rest expect when the orange Eye of Sauron turns their way?
Unlike any other controversial move that Trump has pondered in his six months as president, Senate Republicans are sending preemptive signals that firing the attorney general or pressuring him to resign would be a terrible move.
Considering how Trump has responded to previous requests to tone down his rhetoric, expect his next tweets to explore Sessions’ sexual proclivities.
Trump has already made a preliminary stab at connecting Jefferson Sessions to James Comey and Hillary Clinton.
And the House agreed to join the distraction by pointlessly investigating both Clinton and Comey for the crime of opposing Trump. That investigation brings us measurably closer to the point where speaking out is itself suspect, and just because Clinton is out of power and all but silent doesn’t mean she can’t be an effective Emmanuel Goldstein.
Republican senators may be grumbling that Trump is attacking one of their own, but Trump has barely begun to tar the AG on a shelf and Sessions shouldn’t start to feel comfortable. This week has already shown that senators can be bullied more easily than third-graders with snack money — Dean Heller still hasn’t stopped shaking. If Trump leans in, expect senators to run away from Sessions.
After all, he’s a known supporter of Goldstein—er, Clinton.
Some advisers have come away convinced that Trump is determined to ultimately remove Sessions and is seriously considering a recess appointment to replace him — an idea that has been discussed on some of the cable news shows the president watches. These advisers said Trump would prefer that the attorney general resign rather than have to be fired.
“My understanding is the Sessions thing ends with Sessions leaving the attorney general job to go spend more time with his family,” said one outside counselor to the White House, who, like many others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the subject is highly sensitive.