Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact'

Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign MORE defended his recusal from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation after losing the Alabama Senate GOP runoff, saying he is leaving elected office with his integrity "intact."

Sessions, who represented Alabama in the Senate for 20 years before joining the Trump administration as the nation’s top law enforcement official, faced withering criticism from the president over his recusal, which critics said led to the appointment of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE.

The attacks on Sessions’s recusal were a key theme in the GOP race, which pit Sessions against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE’s support and won the runoff. Trump has long bashed his former attorney general over the recusal.

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“I leave with no regrets. I was honored to serve the people of Alabama in the Senate and I was extraordinarily proud of the accomplishments we had as attorney general. On recusal, I followed the law. I did the right thing, and I saved the president’s bacon in the process. Any other action to try to squelch an investigation in that environment would not have worked, it would have really been a catastrophe, and I’m so glad it finally ended after a prolonged time and the president has been cleared,” Sessions told supporters. 

Despite the repeated broadsides from Trump and his allies, Sessions said he leaves “office with my integrity intact.”

“I feel good about it. I hold my head high. I took the road less traveled. I didn’t try to excuse myself or get in a fight or undermine the leader of our country and the great work he has to do. That was an honorable path, I believe,” he continued.

The remarks come shortly after the runoff against Tuberville was called, marking the end of Sessions’s attempted return to politics.

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Tuberville will be the favorite in the general election race against Sen. Doug Jones, who is widely considered the most vulnerable Democrat up for reelection this year.

The president took a victory lap after Sessions’s defeat, saying Tuberville will be a true supporter in the Senate. 

“Wow, just called! @TTuberville - Tommy Tuberville WON big against Jeff Sessions. Will be a GREAT Senator for the incredible people of Alabama. @DougJones is a terrible Senator who is just a Super Liberal puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. Represents Alabama poorly. On to November 3rd,” Trump tweeted.