Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE penned an open letter Tuesday defending his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Justice Department’s probe into Russian election interference, maintaining he is a staunch supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE.
The letter is the latest attempt by Sessions, who is running for his old Alabama Senate seat, to ingratiate himself with Trump’s base after he drew the White House’s ire for his recusal, which Trump and other critics say led to the appointment of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE.
Sessions defended his recusal, saying his activities with the Trump campaign necessitated he remove himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into the 2016 race, and that his ongoing participation in the inquiry could have harmed the president.
“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,” he wrote. “If I had ignored and broken the law, the Democrats would have used that to severely damage the President.”
Sessions has faced a cavalcade of criticism from Trump and his allies, who have repeatedly claimed that the Alabama Republican should not have taken the job as the nation’s top cop if he knew he would have to recuse himself from the Russia probe.
The criticism appears to have taken a toll on his Senate campaign, with some polls showing Sessions trailing former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and Trump endorsing Tuberville over his former attorney general.
Sessions maintained he remains a strong advocate for Trump’s agenda, noting he was the first senator to back his presidential bid.
“I was the first to endorse President Trump, even when many thought I was nuts to do so. I helped Trump win and traveled the country with him, embedded in his campaign. I am one of the architects of his agenda, and I was pushing his agenda even before he ran for office,” Sessions wrote. “I have remained faithful to the President and his agenda. I have always stood up for him, and I never backed down, not even for one moment.”
Sessions went on to note that he offered his resignation to Trump after Mueller’s appointment, but that the president chose to keep him on for over a year.
The Alabama Republican is running for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, whose seat the GOP views as a top pick up opportunity in a Senate map that puts the party largely on defense.
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The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as “lean” Republican.