Donald Trump’s increasing attacks on Jeff Sessions could be hurting him in one of his strongest areas of support.
The president has upped his rhetoric attacking the attorney general as the Russia probe continues to move closer into his inner circle, continually blaming Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation and for not being more aggressive in going after Trump’s enemies. As CNN reported, the attacks are wearing thin on voters from Alabama, where Sessions had been a Senator prior to his jump to the Trump administration.
Trump has frequently taken aim at Sessions on Twitter, blaming him for the advancement of the Russia investigation and for not going after Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.
“The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself…I would have quickly picked someone else,” Trump tweeted in June. “So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined…and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”
Trump’s Twitter attacks have grown in frequency amid federal convictions to former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Critics say the attacks show that Trump believes the Justice Department is his own personal political attack wing, with Sessions refusing to bow to political pressure to settle Trump’s personal grudges.
The attacks were reportedly even more harsh in private. A new book from journalist Bob Woodward claims that Trump called Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb Southerner” in White House discussions, CNN reported. Trump also bemoaned his decision to pick Sessions at attorney general, saying he would have changed his mind had he known Sessions would ultimately recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Trump urges Sessions to launch probe of critical anonymous opinion piece https://t.co/U655F8puQw— Capital Journal (@WSJPolitics) September 7, 2018
The attacks are not sitting well with many Alabama residents. A CNN reporter interviewed Alabama residents in a Mobile restaurant that Sessions frequented during his time as a U.S. Senator, and many were discouraged at the way Trump has treated Sessions.
“It’s upsetting, very discouraging that he would do that,” one resident said.
“I’m surprised that Jeff Sessions would ever get involved with someone of that low character,” another said.
But others said that they believe the attacks are just Donald Trump being Donald Trump, suggesting that Sessions is not bothered by it. The attacks are also unlikely to do much lasting damage to Trump in Alabama, a deep red state that Trump won by nearly 27 points in the 2016 presidential election.