Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump appeared to be making efforts to bury the hatchet Thursday after a week of tumult and speculation over the two men’s ability to continue working together.
Speaking on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight Thursday, Sessions told audiences:
Well, it’s kind of hurtful, but the President of the United States is a strong leader. He is determined to move this country in the direction he believes it needs to go to make us great again. And he has had a lot of criticisms, and he’s steadfastly determined to get his job done, and he wants [is] all of us to do our jobs, and that’s what I intend to do.
The explanation came after a week of escalating criticism and attacks on Sessions by the president that began with the release of a New York Times interview last Wednesday in which Trump said he would not have nominated Sessions for his post if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Despite an outpouring of support for Sessions on the political right, the president continued to disparage Sessions’s job performance on a variety of grounds — most recently Wednesday, when he used Twitter to lay blame for Clinton-linked Andrew McCabe being acting head of the FBI. The situation resulted when Trump, with Sessions’s acquiescence, fired Director James Comey. A Tuesday report in Politico suggested the two men were no longer on speaking terms as the war of words raged.
For his part, President Trump made no remarks about Sessions either in person or on Twitter for the first day this week. In contrast, the White House and Department of Justice appeared to closely coordinate their schedules to emphasize common goals.
President Trump awarded, at Sessions’s recommendation, the highest national award for public safety officers, the Medal of Valor, to five first responders for their bravery during the June 14 shooting in Alexandria, Virginia that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) severely wounded and three others shot. According to a DOJ press release, “These recipients were recommended by the Medal of Valor Review Board and approved by the Attorney General.”
Sessions himself, however, was not present at the award ceremony because he was making a surprise visit to San Salvador, El Salvador to discuss strategies to rein in the scourge of the transnational MS-13 gang. The White House, meanwhile, hit the same note, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders focusing on the effort during her daily briefing. The president himself applauded the “progress” being made on the problem in a tweet:
Big progress being made in ridding our country of MS-13 gang members and gang members in general. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2017
Additional signs of a detente among top administration officials came from acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan, who piled praise on the Justice Department’s initiatives on immigration enforcement. Speaking about the goal to break the all time one-year deportation record, he told the Washington Times, “I think 409,000 is a stretch this year, but if [the Justice Department] keeps going in the direction they’re going in, if we continue to expand our operational footprint, I think we’re going to get there.”
Homan praised both efforts to sign more “287(g) agreements,” by which willing local jails turn illegal aliens over to ICE, and Sessions’s ongoing efforts to deny DOJ grant funds to so-called “sanctuary cities.” Suggesting that leaders of sanctuary cities might be running afoul of federal law against harboring illegals, Homan told the Times, “I think these sanctuary cities need to make sure they’re on the right side of the law. They need to look at this. Because I am.”
Separately Thursday, the Center for Immigration Studies’s Jessica Vaughan released her patriotic immigration reform non-profit’s estimate of the millions of federal dollars that will be stopped from flowing to sanctuary cities under the guidelines Sessions announced Wednesday.
The apparent reconvergence of messaging between the White House and DOJ also was given a boost by reports that a major Justice Department announcement on investigations of leakers is in the works. These reports were, in turn, bolstered on Thursday by a Circa article that names FBI General Counsel and James Comey “ally” James A. Baker as the “top suspect” in these investigations. Lack of public aggressiveness on tackling the problem of Deep State leakers was a major aspect of the president’s criticism of Attorney General Sessions. The timing of the rumored announcement and anonymous confirmation of Baker as a subject of a leak probe may have been engineered to address President Trump’s concerns.