“As the world knows, the President disagreed with me on recusal, but I did what the law required me to do. I was a central figure in the campaign and was also a subject of and witness in the investigation and could obviously not legally be involved in investigating myself,” the Alabama Republican wrote in a press release
“If I had ignored and broken the law, the Democrats would have used that to severely damage the President.”
Trump has levied multiple attacks on Sessions in recent days, focusing particularly
on Sessions’ 2017 recusal as the former Cabinet member vies to reclaim his US Senate seat in Alabama.
On “Fox and Friends” on Friday, Trump said of Sessions, “He goes in — he was so bad in his nomination proceedings. I should have gotten rid of him there,” adding that he “knew less about Russia than I did.”
“But they got him standing on a line with Kislyak … everyone in Washington knew Kislyak,” he remarked, referring to former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak
Put on the defensive with Republican Alabama voters, Sessions wrote in Tuesday’s press release that “I believe President Trump is a great President who is steadily making progress for America, despite relentless opposition.”
“After the President dismissed me as Attorney General, I did not say a cross word about him, as I thought that would be dishonorable. The great people of Alabama support the President enthusiastically, and we also make our own decisions on who to send to the US Senate,” the press release states.
“The people of Alabama do not have to choose between voting for the President and voting for me, they can do both.”
Sessions will face former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in a fierce Republican runoff primary election
, pitting the man who held the seat for 20 years against a political neophyte.
The race is viewed as the Republicans’ best opportunity in the country to pick up a Senate seat, now held by Democratic Sen. Doug Jones
. The question of whether Trump would try to pick a Republican in the runoff was answered quickly back in March, as the President tweeted soon after the primary result that Sessions’ inability to win outright was the result of not having “the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt.”
For months, people close to the President,
including Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, urged him not to get involved, reasoning that there was a good chance Sessions could return to the Senate and faithfully execute the President’s agenda. But those appeals did not break through with Trump, who has never been able to forgive Sessions — the first sitting senator to endorse Trump
for president — for recusing himself and has continued to bring up the race privately in recent days.
Though Trump has claimed that Sessions recused himself on his first day in office as attorney general, Sessions made the announcement
about three weeks after he had been sworn in. He said he was acting on guidance from Justice Department attorneys after it surfaced that he had failed to report encounters with Kislyak.
The move forever altered his once-chummy relationship with the President, who forced him out of the job in November 2018
and later said naming him attorney general was his biggest mistake as President.