Trump has endorsed Sessions' opponent in the runoff for the GOP Senate nomination in Alabama.
Donald Trump's campaign sent a message to his former attorney general on Tuesday: Stop pretending Trump likes you.
In a letter first reported by the New York Times on Thursday, the Trump campaign's chief operating officer accused Jeff Sessions of making "the delusional assertion that you are President Trump's #1 supporter" and reminded Sessions that despite his repeated attempts to tie himself to Trump, "President Trump and his campaign do not support your efforts to return to the U.S. Senate."
Sessions is set to face fellow Republican Tommy Tuberville in a July 14 runoff for the nomination to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November. Trump endorsed Tuberville last month, praising his work as a "terrific head football coach at Auburn University" and his loyalty to Trump's movement. Sessions held the Senate seat from 1997 to 2017, when he resigned to join Trump's Cabinet.
The Trump campaign letter noted that a recent Sessions mailing mentioned Trump by name 22 times. "We only assume your campaign is doing this to confuse President Trump’s loyal supporters in Alabama into believing the president supports your candidacy in the upcoming primary runoff election. Nothing could be further from the truth," it read.
A Sessions spokesperson told the Times that he was "one of the strongest supporters of President Trump and his agenda" and "no one can change that."
The two men were once close. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump for president back in February 2016. At the time, Trump called him "a man who is respected by everybody here, greatly respected."
Trump rewarded Sessions by naming him attorney general that November. "Jeff has been a highly respected member of the U.S. Senate for 20 years," Trump said. "He is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great attorney general and U.S. attorney in the state of Alabama. Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him."
But the relationship soon soured. In March 2017, Sessions recused himself from any investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Trump's behalf — a move that led to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump reportedly responded to the move at the time by saying, "I'm fucked."
Trump was furious at Sessions for recusing himself. In an interview with the New York Times interview on July 19, he complained, "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.' It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president."
"I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad," he said in a September 2018 interview. "I’m not happy at the border, I’m not happy with numerous things, not just [the recusal]."
Still, Sessions has portrayed himself during his campaign as a Trump loyalist.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.