by Cinzia Croce
As soon as Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluded his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, supporters of President Donald Trump took to social media celebrating what they deemed an “evisceration” of the Democrats on the panel. They did the same after the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, which they, and Trump himself, viewed as total vindication of the president. If the hearings were about seeking the truth about any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, then indeed both days would be victories for the president. But after months of hearings and many hours of testimony, it should be clear to all that the hearings are not about pursuing the truth. The hearings — and special counsel Robert Mueller — are about miring the Trump administration in endless investigations in the hope that some grounds for impeachment materialize or, at the very least, prevent Trump from implementing his agenda. Let me make this very clear to Trump supporters: as long as the hearings and the special counsel keep going, every day will be a bad day for President Trump and a great day for his political opponents in both parties.
For many Trump supporters, watching Jeff Sessions forcefully defend his honor increased their admiration for the man. For me, it had the opposite effect. By the time he finished his testimony, my admiration had turned into an intense dislike. I did not see a selfless public servant defending his good name. Instead, what I saw was a self-centered individual with a grandiose opinion of himself more interested in protecting his reputation than serving the administration he joined. Sessions requested an open session before the committee. He wanted to make sure that the entire world would be able to see him deny that he ever colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. Did anyone expect him to say otherwise? What exactly did Sessions’ appearance before the Senate achieve other than giving him a high-profile platform to declare that he was offended? So exemplary is Sessions that he decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation rather than risk his prestige. So exemplary that he testified that he had full confidence in Mueller at a time when the special counsel’s team is being filled with Democratic donors and Clinton loyalists. No: it was all about protecting Sessions’ standing among his colleagues — and if that meant overshadowing the president’s trip to Wisconsin to promote his workforce reforms, well…
Prior to his appointment as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions served as a U.S. Senator for 20 years. After working in the swamp for so many years, he should have recognized the tell-tale signs of a political witch hunt. He should know the history of special counsels, and their tendency to drift from the original mandate and veer far off course looking for ways to justify their existence. The last special counsel appointed was Patrick Fitzgerald, who was tasked with investigating the leaking of the name of a CIA officer to the press. Even though Fitzgerald knew from the outset the identity of the leaker and that there was no criminal violation of the relevant statute, he persisted until he was able to obtain a perjury conviction of Scooter Libby, who had nothing to do with the leak. Perhaps Sessions was too focused on serving his Alabama constituents and didn’t pay attention to what happened with Patrick Fitzgerald — I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, did he also fail to pay attention during his confirmation hearings? The Democrats were very open about their intention to seek a special counsel and use the Russia-collusion allegations to torment the Trump administration. There is no excuse for Sessions abandoning a young administration to the swamp creatures. As Michael Goodwin wrote, it is clear from Sessions’ testimony that he knew that he was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation and, thus, he should have withdrawn his name from consideration. That’s what an honorable man interested in promoting the president’s agenda would have done. Instead, Jeff Sessions chose to put his personal ambition first — and now the America First agenda that gave hope to millions of American is in serious jeopardy.