Former U.S. Attorney General and former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is again running for his old seat in the U.S. Senate in Alabama, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview last week that Republicans can dominate electorally for generations if they stick to what President Donald Trump campaigned on in 2016 when it comes to immigration and trade.
“I’m going to push the Republican Senate conference hard,” Sessions said when it comes to immigration, should he win back his old seat in Alabama. “And I’m going to push the House Conference. The American people want a lawful system of immigration. They want to protect the national interest of the United States. They’re not globalists. They want us to protect American manufacturing interests against global trade competition. China is the worst offender. We have this monumental trade deficit with China. So, also, the world is always wanting the United States to join some organization in which other people get to vote on what should happen around the world, and then we’re expected to support what they vote for. This is why the Brits want to Brexit, and to get out of the E.U. because the E.U. has taken over their sovereignty.”
“We need to protect our sovereignty.” Sessions continued. “We are a nation state, not an idea. We had leaders in the Republican Party say we are not a nation state, and that we are an idea—this is ridiculous. We have got a constitution, we have got a border, we have got a history that’s ours, a legal system that’s ours, a political system that’s ours—it works. To jeopardize this all is ridiculous. I’m not saying 500 years from now there won’t be—there will be changes I’m sure. But right now we need to defend our sovereign interest.”
“Where does power lie?” Sessions said. “It ultimately lies with the American people. The American people support those ideas—and they are Donald Trump’s ideas. If we will clarify, we will welcome the people’s ideas, and advance them, and expose the Democrats as the party that’s trying to block it then we have an opportunity to lead the country for the next two generations—for the next 20 years. But there’s been some diminishing in my view. You’ve got 24-hour news channels, you’ve got Breitbart, you’ve got a series of multiple sources from where people get information. But they’re on our side, and we need to show them we respect them and do what they’re saying is right and that we’re going to get it done.”
Before Sessions joined Trump’s administration at the outset as his Attorney General, he spent 20 years in the U.S. Senate fighting for this vision on immigration. Sessions fought efforts by both political parties to jam amnesty down America’s throat, thwarting multiple major political class attempts at amnesty for illegal aliens in 2006, 2007, and 2013, and stopping many other smaller ones along the way. He was also instrumental in helping positive reforms on immigration, such as pushing for the Secure Fence Act which helped build the first border barriers and laying out a vision for the GOP on the issue over the years.
“My election will say something about that because I’ll be front and center,” Sessions said. “Polling data shows that substantially immigration is significantly the biggest issue in Alabama. And I think it’s an issue for just average American working people, and they’re not happy that we haven’t delivered. So if I were able to return to the Senate, we’re going to push this issue.”
Sessions was known in the U.S. Senate as the force who held the line on immigration, ensuring that border security, enforcement, and American workers’ interests were front and center as other senators had other priorities during immigration negotiations. He discussed this history in his exclusive in-person interview with Breitbart News in Washington, DC, late last week.
“Just to give a little example, I remember when we blocked the first amnesty bill back in 2006 or 2007,” Sessions told Breitbart News. “So we worked and got a bill passed that would have built 700 miles of fencing, which would have been a tremendous step forward. And then when the bill came out to fund the government, it had no money for the fence. So I pointed out that people went home and bragged about voting to build a fence, but they didn’t put any money in it. It was a sham, and it was dishonest and unacceptable. They did go back and we passed it, money for it, but it allowed them too many loopholes in it—vehicle barriers were counted as fencing—and we didn’t end up with nearly as much progress as we should have made. With somebody in there watching and pushing for this, things would be different. Congress has proven it waffles on it, and does not follow through and close the loop.”
Sessions has proven throughout his history both in the U.S. Senate and his multiple stints at the Justice Department, first as U.S. Attorney and later as Attorney General, that this issue is his highest priority, and he has a track record of winning on immigration against all odds. The biggest amnesty push that Sessions nearly single-handedly thwarted was in 2013, in the wake of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s terrible performance against now former President Barack Obama during Obama’s 2012 re-election. Romney, now a U.S. Senator from Utah, had lost so many states in that election that many Republicans thought the only pathway back to legitimacy with the voters was a wide-scale amnesty. Sessions fought it, hard, and was for a time the loneliest voice on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Despite more memorable filibusters that year from Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), it was Sessions who actually spent more time speaking on the U.S. Senate floor in 2013—systemically in multi-hour chunks making the case from the minority of the minority party in the U.S. Senate against what he considered a great betrayal of American workers.
It worked: While the amnesty passed the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, Sessions had slowed it significantly enough that enough Republicans in the House majority questioned whether it was the right pathway forward. Despite some efforts by some in GOP leadership—among others, now former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tried to get it moving, but it cost him his seat in a primary he lost to now former Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA)—the Republicans heeded Sessions’ dire warnings and let the Senate-passed amnesty that Obama would have signed into law fade off into irrelevance. Political consultants screamed that it cost the GOP dearly for doing that, but it didn’t: Republicans took the majority in the U.S. Senate in 2014, and then in 2016 in a whirlwind of a campaign against the same pro-amnesty globalist forces that pushed this amnesty Donald Trump first won the GOP nomination and then the White House.
“The American people have been stiffed for years,” Sessions told Breitbart News. “People have been running for years saying they’re going to fix immigration. When the chips are down, they don’t weigh in, they don’t take strong stands and we ended up not doing much. President Trump is doing everything he and the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice can do but there are loopholes—and some funding has got to be passed. Congress has not stepped up to the plate and we have not made the progress I would have hoped. The last few months, the numbers have looked better finally but it’s not—it’s just not fair to the Border Patrol officers to leave them so subjected to loopholes and lack of funding and support. So I blame Congress for not being supportive enough—and they need to be pushed and they can’t just be holding their hands out to big business and pretending to the voters that they’re going to do something. That’s basically what’s happened.”
Sessions was, as he points out in his first round of campaign ads for his 2020 U.S. Senate campaign, the first U.S. Senator to stand side-by-side with Trump and endorse the now president. Part of the reason why Sessions endorsed Trump in early 2016 at a rally in Madison, Alabama, from which Breitbart News made a live report, is because Trump tapped into that same distrust the American people have for political elites who have screwed over American workers on immigration time and time again. In particular, Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico was something that Sessions said demonstrated the public’s dissatisfaction with Washington. Sure, Trump intended to build an actual wall which he is doing now, but it was much more than that too: It was about highlighting the fact that the career politicians in both parties failed to deliver for Americans on immigration enforcement and border security.
“Yes he did. He raised it clearly and directly,” Sessions said of Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to build a wall. “The building of the wall is important in itself but it also was his way of saying ‘I’m serious about this, you have been hearing promises before that they didn’t deliver on, I’m going to deliver, I’m going to make this happen.’ He has fought hard for it, but golly the courts have been a nightmare and Congress whenever the chips are down has failed to deliver in my view. There’s not a strong enough advocate even within the Republican conference about it. I think most people are for it, but they just haven’t pushed it hard enough. I have some theories about how we can highlight the issue. It’s just going to have to be brought up and people are going to have to choose. Are you for open borders and are you for sanctuary cities? Or are you going to say enough is enough and we’re going to back the president and fix it? We’re not saying we won’t have immigrants. Of course. We’re not going to end all immigration, but this illegality is a great embarrassment to any nation that wants to be respected in the world it seems to me.”
The relationship between Trump and Sessions later soured when Sessions as Attorney General recused himself from the Russia case. Sessions has said in multiple interviews he has no regrets, but Trump has expressed frustration with him over it. Nonetheless, Trump has also said he does not plan to intervene against Sessions in Alabama. Despite this tension that still exists between them over that decision as Attorney General, one of the biggest under-told stories about Sessions’ tenure in the job is all the actions Sessions took as Attorney General to help implement President Trump’s immigration vision from the Department of Justice. That story, which Sessions told to Breitbart News in this exclusive interview, could be an even more critical point in the case Sessions is making about immigration to retake the U.S. Senate seat he gave up, which now Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) won in a 2017 special election fraught with peril over the personal life of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
In other words, if Sessions can help get the Republican Party refocused back on the issues that win for the party, in particular immigration—as evidenced by 2014, 2016, and other major GOP winning years—and to turn the page away from the politics of personality, he could significantly help the GOP nationally heading into the 2020 elections and beyond to build that generations-long electoral dominance he speaks of for the GOP. With recent electoral setbacks for Republicans throughout the South, including in Louisiana’s and Kentucky’s governor’s races as well as for this particular seat where Democrat Jones currently sits, it’s likely even despite Sessions’ rough patches with Trump that the GOP will again heed his dire warnings on this and other issues just like they did in the past. In fact, Sessions already has a dozen Republican U.S. Senators standing at his side having endorsed his campaign, and top conservative movement leaders are rushing to his side to help facilitate the return of the man who was fighting for an America-first vision as that lonely voice on the floor of the U.S. Senate long before there even was a Trump candidacy, never mind presidency.
But first Sessions has to win his own primary, in which he is polling ahead of everyone else upon his entrance into the race, and tell this story of what the GOP needs to do on immigration. The way he does that is talk about what he did in the Senate before, and what he did at the Department of Justice on this issue, as he did in this exclusive interview with Breitbart News.
“We sent additional prosecutors to the border offices,” Sessions said of his time as Attorney General. “We told Homeland Security that we will prosecute every case you bring to us—‘I will find the prosecutors,’ and I found them. We went up over 50 percent of the people who—we increased substantially the prosecutions of illegal entrants. Enforcement is the Homeland Security, Border Patrol and the ICE officers, but you don’t need them bringing cases and the U.S. Attorneys not be willing to prosecute. We doubled the number of immigration judges that are on the border or throughout the country to hear these cases. I issued a series of opinions. It’s just like administrative law judges in other agencies at like Department of Labor and others, these immigration judges are Department of Justice employees.”
“Homeland Security brings the cases and defends them, and then the immigration judges decide the cases.” Sessions continued. “We got a lot of new judges, a lot of good ones, we replaced a lot that had retired, but they had some bad opinions out there. One of the opinions that had been established out there were things like if you had been subject to spousal abuse in Brazil that would be a basis to ask for asylum in the United States. That’s absurd. Brazil is a huge country. If somebody was subject to spousal abuse in Chicago, they’re not entitled to be admitted to Liechtenstein. Go to Atlanta or go to Seattle. They don’t have to demand entry to another country. So this is just an example of the idiocy of much of what was happened. I reversed that. We reversed a series of those kinds of cases so that our officers can decline an unjustified asylum.”
Sessions also noted that he, as Attorney General, defended the president’s travel ban order, a case the Department of Justice eventually won when it reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We defended the president’s travel order,” Sessions said. “We are litigating aggressively against sanctuary cities. A lot of people accused us of not winning but they were able to file cases in favorable jurisdictions and get initial rulings winning but we’re reversing a lot of those cases. The big one, the initial one, the travel ban it was called, they [the Supreme Court] gave an emergency order allowing 90 percent of it to be in effect. It’s in effect right now. We lost that in district court. Sally Yates, who was for less than a week Acting Attorney General, refused to defend that. We got her terminated and defended the president’s orders.”