Sessions’ powerful friends stand up to Trump

The attorney general’s former colleagues in Congress, as well as conservative allies, publicly questioned the president’s attacks on Sessions.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was among Sessions’ most vocal defenders Wednesday, when he seemed to almost be taunting the president, suggesting that his failure to fire Sessions showed weakness, while also hinting that the impact of such a move could be catastrophic for Trump’s presidency.

 “He’s trying to get Sessions to quit and I hope Sessions doesn’t quit. If the president wants to fire him, fire him,” Graham said. “I think anybody who’s strong would use the power they have and be confident in his decision. Strong people say: ‘I’ve decided this man or woman can’t serve me well and I’m going to act accordingly and take the consequence.’ To me weakness is when you play around the edges and don’t use the power you have.”

One conservative activist said that an effort is underway to coordinate and amplify such statements because of fears that Trump doesn’t understand the blow his administration and the conservative movement would suffer if Sessions departs.

..  Is this fight to have right now? The danger of this fight with General Sessions is he’s not only a loyal supporter of the president which sends a bad message to supporters, but he’s also getting the job done,” said the source, referring to Session’s initiatives on such issues as illegal immigration and toughening criminal sentencing.

.. Numerous prominent conservative voices have publicly rallied to Sessions side, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), former Trump transition domestic policy chief and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

.. Gingrich said on NPR early Wednesday. “I think that Jeff Sessions, in fact, was one of his earliest and most loyal supporters. I think Jeff Sessions is a solid conservative. I think, yeah, you can argue either way. I mean, even a guy like Rudy Giuliani, who’s very pro-Trump, said he would have recused himself.”
.. The senators view Trump’s treatment of their former colleague as “offensive,” the source said.
.. Some GOP senators also fear that if Trump pushes Sessions out, the results could be dire for Trump. Such a development might lead to mass resignations at the Justice Department and it might be impossible to find a majority in the Senate to confirm a replacement for Sessions, the source added.
.. the president took another shot at Sessions Wednesday morning, faulting him for failing to remove acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” Trump tweeted.

.. Trump’s statement was puzzling because the president has the authority to name an acting FBI director and the White House publicly toyed with the idea of bringing in another FBI official to replace McCabe, but never did so.

.. Senior White House strategist Steve Bannon is the moving force in the effort to persuade Trump to back away from his public salvos at Sessions

.. American should be troubled by the character of a person who humiliates and turns his back on a close friend after only six months.

.. Schumer—who in March called for Sessions to resign over his contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak

.. “Only Trump could make Sessions into a sympathetic figure,” said James Gagliano, a former FBI agent in New York and an adjunct professor of leadership studies at St. Johns University. “It’s unifying some factions I don’t think would ever have unified. Maybe he is a unifier.”

Jim DeMint Is Said to Be Out at Heritage Foundation

Mr. DeMint’s abrupt ouster, described by people as a “coup” against him, was the result of a larger debate among conservative donors who fund the group. One of its board members is Rebekah Mercer

.. Ms. Mercer was described by people with knowledge of the events as helping drive the effort toward a shake-up. Another person close to the discussions, who asked not to be identified, said that Mr. DeMint was not seen as sufficiently pro-Trump by some members of the board.

A likely candidate to take over, said one person with knowledge of the situation, is Edwin J. Feulner, a former president of Heritage who has worked closely with the Trump administration.

.. The foundation and its political arm, Heritage Action for America, pushed aggressively for a full repeal, which would have left none of the original 2010 law in place. That was further than Mr. Trump and Republican congressional leaders wanted to go.

.. Heritage, which rose to prominence during the Reagan administration and remains a home for many Reagan-era aides like Edwin Meese III, the former attorney general, has come to represent the hard-line, uncompromising vision for conservatism associated with the Tea Party movement and its leaders in Congress.

.. Under President Barack Obama’s administration, Heritage shifted to become more engaged in direct political combat. After decades of producing mountains of high-fiber white papers, the think tank became more defined by a political arm that sought to hold Republican lawmakers accountable rather than just supplying them with the raw materials for legislation.

.. Mr. Trump leaned heavily on Heritage to help steer his agenda and staff his administration. The group was one of the players working on the president’s team that led to the selection of Neil M. Gorsuch