Alabama congressional Republicans have rallied behind embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who served in that delegation nearly 20 years before being appointed by President Trump as the country’s top law enforcement officer.
“I know Jeff Sessions to be a man of great character and sound judgment,” Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby told reporters, as Trump continues to rail against the attorney general for recusing himself from a Justice Department probe into Russia's election meddling.
“His decision to recuse himself was the right thing to do, not just for himself, but for the administration,” continued Roby, who considers Session a mentor and rigorously defended Sessions' character during his Senate confirmation hearings. “This country needs Jeff Sessions as attorney general.”
She argued that Washington has done more to crack down on illegal immigration since Sessions became attorney general than in all of the prior eight years.
Sessions, an immigration hawk while in Congress, was among Trump’s earliest and most ardent campaign supporters.
His backing helped the first-time candidate and former New York real estate mogul win big across the Deep South in the 2016 presidential race.
Trump initially defended Session for recusing himself in March, after failing to properly report two meetings with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
However, the president has recently has become agitated by Sessions' decision, as the Russia probes have expanded into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian officials in the race and other areas. The federal investigation is now being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, with Sessions on the sidelines.
Trump recently told The New York Times that he would not have hired Sessions had he known he would recuse himself.
And speculation is mounting that Trump could fire and replace Sessions.
Alabama senior Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, on Tuesday said didn’t agree with Trump’s assessment that Sessions isn’t doing his job. However, he made clear the matter is between Trump and Sessions.
“I’m not the president,” Shelby told Fox News. “But I have a lot of respect for Jeff Sessions. … What goes on between the attorney general and the president I’m not privy to. But I know Jeff Sessions is a man of integrity, a man of purpose and a man of substance. I hope he will stay.”
Other members of the Alabama GOP congressional delegation coming to Sessions’ support Tuesday included Rep. Mo Brooks, also an immigration hawk.
“Jeff Sessions is a man of integrity -- keeping us safe by faithfully enforcing our laws & supporting our brave law enforcement officers,” Brooks tweeted.
Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne tweeted: “I continue to stand behind Jeff Sessions. He is exactly the right fit for our Attorney General.”