Mo Brooks would leave Senate race to reinstate Sessions
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is offering to withdraw from Alabama’s special Senate election to make way for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take the Republican nomination for his former seat — if the other GOP contenders vow to do the same.
Brooks’s proposition comes as President Trump ratchets up criticism of his attorney general, signaling a potential push by the White House to oust Sessions from the Justice Department.
In his statement, Brooks described Trump’s treatment of Sessions as a “public waterboarding.”
“If all Republican candidates collectively agree to simultaneously withdraw from this race, then we clear the way for the Republican Party of Alabama to nominate Jeff Sessions to be the Republican nominee for the December 12, 2017 general election,” Brooks said in a statement Wednesday.
“He can return to the Senate where he has served us so well. President can then appoint whomever he wants as Attorney General,” he added.
The field of Republicans vying for the Senate seat previously held by Sessions and now occupied by Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) is crowded.
But Brooks said that allowing the attorney general to return to the chamber would ultimately give the state more influence in Washington, given Sessions’s 20-year tenure in the Senate and his potential to secure key committee assignments.
Attached to Brooks’s statement was a “Resolution Reinstating Jeff Sessions as United States Senator,” detailing Trump’s recent affronts regarding the attorney general and making the case for his return to the Senate. At the bottom of the resolution is space for each of the seat’s nine GOP candidates to sign.
Brooks, who is serving his fourth term in the House, is roughly tied with Strange for second place in the special Senate race, according to recent polling.
Trump and Sessions have been locked in a public standoff that began last week, when Trump told The New York Times in an interview that he would have picked someone else for attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the law enforcement investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
In the days that followed, Trump took to Twitter to criticize his administration’s top law enforcement official, at one point calling him “beleaguered” and repeatedly questioning why Sessions hadn’t opened up investigations into Trump’s former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
The broadsides against Sessions immediately stirred speculation that Trump is pushing for Sessions’s resignation.
Republican lawmakers have urged the attorney general to hold his ground, and Sessions has signaled that he has no plans to step down from the top the Justice Department.
“If the president has reservations about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that is okay. No two people agree all the time,” Brooks said. “But President Trump should raise his reservations with Attorney General Sessions privately, man to man, one on one, not publicly scorn a great man like this.”
Asked during a news conference at the White House on Tuesday if he would fire Sessions, Trump simply replied that “we’ll see what happens,” and reiterated his frustration with Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
“If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have picked somebody else,” he said. “It’s a bad thing not just for the president, but also for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency.”
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