Succinctly stated, President Trump needs all the friends he can get. When Trump was a 1,000:1 long- shot presidential candidate, then-Senator, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to bat for the embattled real estate mogul, a courageous move that estranged him from most of his congressional colleagues.
Sessions was drawn to Trump because of his strong immigration enforcement platform. Since Trump’s election, much of his immigration agenda, including most prominently the wall, has been stalled. President Trump has waffled on several immigration pledges, too, like ending deferred action for childhood arrivals, DACA, and tightening up on employment-based temporary visas. Only Sessions’ vigorous commitment to internal enforcement – vigorous at least when compared to previous administrations – has saved President Trump from an open revolt championed by his base.
Under the new administration’s leadership and prompted by President Trump’s executive orders that gave broader authority to agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s stepped-up removals have led to a sharp decline in illegal border crossings. ICE has arrested more than 41,300 aliens since President Trump’s inauguration and through April 29, a 38 percent increase from the same period in 2016. Nearly 75 percent of the arrested aliens have convictions for violent crimes that include homicide, rape, kidnapping and assault. The AG’s next removal targets are criminal aliens harbored in the nation’s 300 sanctuary cities.
Sessions has overseen the escalated campaign to remove aliens, especially criminals, but also as Department of Homeland Security John Kelly stated in February anyone illegally present.
But the recent dust-up between President Trump and Sessions threatens all the AG has accomplished. In, of all places, a New York Times interview, President Trump excoriated Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, and piled on when he said that he would never have appointed the Alabama senator had he known beforehand his intentions. The media, always eager to stir up trouble, made much of President Trump’s criticism, and futilely hoped that Sessions would resign.
President Trump can count on one hand his Capitol Hill friends, and last week he called out GOP leaders for their failure to get on board. In a series of frustrated tweets, President Trump wrote that it is “very sad” that Republicans “do very little to protect their president,” including those in Congress during the 2016 election who he carried “over the line on my back.”
Although President Trump didn’t name names, top on his list should be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. McConnell, during his 30-year Senate career, has supported more overseas workers, and been weak on ending amnesty enticements. Ryan isn’t much better, and is a particularly strong refugee resettlement advocate. McConnell and Ryan should be President Trump’s staunchest advocates, but they’re more aligned with the Democratic opposition.
President Trump is the nation’s first dogless chief executive since William McKinley, 1897-1901. Without a pet pooch, President Trump needs to keep his friends close. Sessions’ credentials as an ally are impeccable, and President Trump is foolish to publicly malign him.