Jeff Sessions, former Alabama Senator and avid Trump supporter since the beginning, was forced to resign from his position as U.S. Attorney General within 12 hours of the 2018 midterm elections. Although Sessions was one of Trump’s first and most vocal supporters, their relationship quickly soured in March 2017 when Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He did so—or so he says—because of his involvement with the Trump campaign. Trump was outraged by this act and went on to call for Sessions to “un-recuse” himself on at least four instances. As Sessions stood his ground, Trump chose to humiliate him at every chance possible: in the Oval Office, to the press, and through his infamous Twitter feed. Sessions—worn out and at the end of his rope—offered his resignation at least once, which Trump “did not accept,” making it clear that he would be the one calling the shots.
Don't get me wrong, I think Sessions represents some of the most vile aspects of the Trump agenda. He supports the death penalty in drug trafficking cases. He has pulled back federal oversight of local police departments that can prevent police brutality (see his last act as A.G.). He has moved to prosecute anyone and everyone illegally crossing the Mexican-American border regardless of the circumstances they are fleeing. His policies stand for everything I vehemently oppose. All this being said, Trump did not push him out of his position due to Sessions' racist stances or nationalistic agendas. In actuality, Trump pushed Sessions out of office because he wouldn't be blindly align himself in allegiance to the president, which is what Trump expected. This precisely is what is so problematic.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a statement, and I think they said it best: “Jeff Sessions was the worst Attorney General in modern American history. He was an egregious violation of civil rights and civil liberties...The dismissal of the nation’s top law enforcement official is a huge step, one that should not be based on political motives—and certainly should not be done to protect the president or his cronies from the law.”
When James Comey was fired, the nation was—justifiably—up in arms. Now, just over a year later, something arguably on par has occurred and it is not garnering nearly as much attention. How are we becoming so desensitized, and when will we realize that manipulating an investigation this blatantly and continuously is deceitful and unethical?
Unfortunately, the issue only begins with Sessions' removal. The Jeff Sessions replacement is a man named Matthew Whitaker. Whitaker was Sessions’ Chief of Staff and is a Trump loyalist who has incessantly referred to the investigation as a “Witch Hunt” (sound familiar?). Many argue that this appointment is unconstitutional, including the husband of Kellyanne Conway, advisor to President Trump. Now that Whitaker is taking the investigation over from Rod Rosenstein, who was assigned oversight following Sessions’ recusal, it is unclear what lies ahead. While it is unlikely that the investigation will be shut down, it is very possible that limitations will be put on Mueller’s investigation.
In reference to the Mueller investigation, Rudy Giuliani once said, “Our jury…is the American people.” Whether one views this as terrifying or relieving, I agree with his sentiment wholeheartedly. This duty is exactly why the citizens of our nation cannot afford to become jaded or disinterested. As people increasingly burrow their heads in the sand, chaos is continuing in the capital. Now, more than ever, we all need to be informed, involved, and vocal. This means seeking out multiple news sources that you trust and following them regularly. This means engaging in conversation with people from all kinds of political backgrounds. This means not accepting our current climate as “the new normal.” This means voting and interacting with your local and community governments. And in particular, this means understanding the law and seeking out experts who are eager to uphold it and interpret it justly.