Sessions’s ideology is driven by a visceral aversion to what he calls “soulless globalism,” a term used on the extreme right to convey a perceived threat to the United States from free trade, international alliances and the immigration of nonwhites.
.. From immigration and health care to national security and trade, Sessions is the intellectual godfather of the president’s policies.
.. The author of many of Trump’s executive orders is senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a Sessions confidant who was mentored by him and who spent the weekend overseeing the government’s implementation of the refugee ban.
.. The mastermind behind Trump’s incendiary brand of populism is chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who, as chairman of the Breitbart website, promoted Sessions for years.
.. Then there is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who considers Sessions a savant and forged a bond with the senator while orchestrating Trump’s trip last summer to Mexico City and during the darkest days of the campaign.
.. In an email in response to a request from The Washington Post, Bannon described Sessions as “the clearinghouse for policy and philosophy” in Trump’s administration, saying he and the senator are at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” and the global nationalist phenomenon.
.. “In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies,” Bannon wrote. “Jeff Sessions has been at the forefront of this movement for years, developing populist nation-state policies that are supported by the vast and overwhelming majority of Americans, but are poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of our larger cities.”
.. The senator lobbied for a “shock-and-awe” period of executive action that would rattle Congress, impress Trump’s base and catch his critics unaware, according to two officials involved in the transition planning. Trump opted for a slightly slower pace, these officials said, because he wanted to maximize news coverage by spreading out his directives over several weeks.
.. Trump makes his own decisions, but Sessions was one of the rare lawmakers who shared his impulses.
“Sessions brings heft to the president’s gut instincts,” said Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser. He compared Sessions to John Mitchell, who was attorney general under Richard M. Nixon but served a more intimate role as a counselor to the president on just about everything. “Nixon is not a guy given to taking advice, but Mitchell was probably Nixon’s closest adviser,” Stone said.
.. Sessions has also been leading the internal push for Trump to nominate William H. Pryor Jr., his deputy when Sessions was Alabama’s attorney general and now a federal appeals court judge, for the Supreme Court. While Pryor is on Trump’s list of three finalists, it is unclear whether he will get the nod.
.. Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House and informal Trump adviser, said, “Sessions is the person who is comfortable being an outsider to the establishment but able to explain the establishment to Trump. There is this New York-Los Angeles bias that if you sound like Alabama, you can’t be all that bright, but that’s totally wrong, and Trump recognized how genuinely smart Sessions is.”