New White House chief of staff, John Kelly, reportedly called Attorney General Jeff Sessions Saturday to tell him his job is safe. This latest evidence puts speculation of his departure to rest.
According to a Fox News report, that phone call came Saturday following more than a week of continual criticism of Sessions by President Donald Trump and attendant media speculation as to the possibility of his ouster. Fox claims this call is corroborated by two sources within the administration including one described as a “senior White House official.”
Talk of Sessions’ departure from the administration died down as the week came to a close, but after Kelly left his former post as secretary of Homeland Security when he took up Reince Priebus’s office as White House chief of staff, new speculation began that Sessions might be shifted to the top spot at DHS. Speaking with the Associated Press Monday, Sessions downplayed those rumors, emphasizing his love of his current job. “This is coming home to the Department of Justice I so much loved and still do. You can make things happen in the Department of Justice,” he said.
Sources familiar with the selection process have indicated that the focus of consideration for the DHS secretary position has been on other types of candidates outside the administration. Troublingly for immigration hawks, a great deal of media speculation around the position has focused on Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), whom CNN went so far as to call “one of the top candidates” Wednesday. McCaul is a one-time immigration ally of unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who once signed a photograph with a controversial Muslim-American activist with, “The moderate Muslim is our most effective weapon.”
Some conservatives have coalesced around Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who, like McCaul, was considered for the job before Kelly was selected. The press caught on camera his tough plans for cracking down on terrorism and illegal immigration as he came out of a meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump, possibly leading to his removal from consideration.
Kobach is currently running for governor of Kansas and would have to withdraw to take up the reins at DHS, but conservative author and reputed Trump confidante Ann Coulter has repeatedly urged the president to pick him:
This press conference would be a great opportunity to announce Kris Kobach as new homeland secretary!
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 2, 2017
Still very active in the national immigration debate, Kobach penned an op-ed for Breitbart News defending the RAISE Act introduced Wednesday by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-LA) and David Perdue (R-GA). The legislation, endorsed by President Trump, represents what could be the greatest overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system in more than half a century.