Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions Announces Run for Senate Seat

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

Former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) announced on Nov. 7 that he is seeking the 2020 Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat for Alabama.

Sessions, 72, served as Alabama’s senator for two decades—from 1997 to 2017—before he joined the Trump administration as attorney general in February 2017.

Sessions resigned from the attorney general position on Nov. 7, 2018, at Trump’s request. The attorney general position was filled briefly by Matthew Whitaker until William Barr was confirmed to the job in February.

News of Sessions exploring the possibility of running for a Senate seat emerged last week.

Sessions said he has not yet had a chance to discuss his candidacy with the president.

Asked in a Fox News interview if he expected to get Trump’s support, Sessions said: “I hope so. I think he will respect my work.”

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Sessions said: “When I left President Trump’s cabinet, did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the President? No. Have I said a cross word about President Trump? No.

“And I’ll tell you why: First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine. Second, the President is doing a great job for America and Alabama, and he has my strong support.

“As everyone knows, President Trump and I have had our ups and downs. But here’s the important part: the President is doing great work for America.

“When President Trump took on Washington, only one Senator out of a hundred had the courage to stand with him: me. I was the first to support President Trump. I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again.

“Our freedoms have never been under attack like they are today. We have major party candidates for president campaigning on socialism, confiscating firearms, and closing down churches they disagree with. I’ve battled these forces my entire life, and I’m not about to surrender now. Let’s go!”

Sessions also posted a 30-second video to his Twitter page, reiterating his message. “This is a crucial time in our nation’s history. The left has become unhinged and they are threatening the very things that make America great,” he wrote.

Trump had said in a statement on Nov. 7 when bidding farewell to Sessions: “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!”

But Trump had also expressed negativity when speaking about Sessions, who recused himself from the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times in an interview in 2017.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?” he had asked on Twitter in July 2017, with “A.G.” referring to Sessions.

Almost a year later, Trump tweeted: “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. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined … and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”

Sessions will now face a crowded field of candidates seeking the 2020 Republican nomination in the Southern states to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones.

Republican candidates vying for the nomination in the primary race include U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, state Rep. Arnold Mooney, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

When Jones defeated Moore in 2017, he became the first Democrat to win election to the Senate from Alabama in 25 years in what had been considered a safe Republican state.

Reuters contributed to this report.