Anti-pot Attorney General Jeff Sessions barely saves his own job

Trump was thinking about replacing him with someone even more against legalization.

Mar 22, 2018

Marijuana proponents rejoiced and then quickly recoiled when rumors circulated last week that prominent anti-pot Attorney General Jeff Sessions might be replaced with the arguably more hard-lined marijuana opponent and the current EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Now, it looks like Sessions may keep his job afterall (for now).

President Trump has reportedly been considering replacing Sessions for over six months now. But according to a Vanity Fair report last Wednesday, Trump once again began seriously thinking about doing it soon.

Then, on Friday night, Sessions made a controversial move that has been praised by Trump and which some experts believe was an attempt to save his job: firing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The firing of Andrew McCabe itself is not a wholly unjustified move, but the circumstances around the decision have drawn suspicion.

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Deputy Director Andrew McCabe addresses the audience during Director Christopher Wray’s formal installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters on September 28, 2017. Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigations

In 2016, McCabe leaked information to the media about the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation which, according to Sessions, he was not authorized to do. However, due to Trump’s lambasting comments about McCabe and the timing in which he was fired—roughly a day before he was slated to retire—many believe Sessions had ulterior motives.

Since McCabe was fired, rather than being allowed to retire, he is no longer able to collect the pension that he spent an entire career accruing. Therefore, the firing served virtually no purpose aside from punishing McCabe for what Trump believes are ties to his personal enemies— former FBI Director James Comey and Hillary Clinton. Sessions’ decision to do so, as was made clear on Twitter, was applauded by his boss in the Oval Office.

 

Legal experts, however, have begun to speculate as to whether Sessions should have been able to fire McCabe in the first place.

After being appointed to the position of United States Attorney General, Sessions recused himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign—a move that angered Trump, who hoped the new AG would protect him from such investigations. Since McCabe worked under former FBI director James Comey when he opened his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, one could make the case that Sessions firing McCabe violated his recusal.

Still, from Sessions’ perspective, these controversies are a safer bet than losing his job entirely, which Trump has long threatened to make happen. In other words, punishing McCabe may have pleased Trump enough to put Sessions back in the president’s good books—for now.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) with current FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigations
Mar 22, 2018