The Media Today

The media today: Jeff Sessions, beyond the soap opera

July 25, 2017

Today he isVERY weak.” Yesterday he was “beleaguered.” Some day soon, he may well be out of a job. But in the meantime, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been one of the most consequential members of the Trump administration. Though recent headlines about him have concerned his tenuous hold on the job as the nation’s top law enforcement official, Sessions has already begun reshaping the policies and priorities of the Justice Department.

After two decades as one of the Senate’s most conservative members, Sessions became an early Trump surrogate, lending an air of legitimacy to an unusual candidate. Trump rewarded him with an appointment as Attorney General, and Sessions has moved quickly to act on his law-and-order ideology. He has rolled back Obama administration policies on asset forfeiture, cracked down on sanctuary cities, and pushed drug war policies reminiscent of an earlier era. As much of the president’s legislative agenda has stalled in Congress, Sessions’s actions represent some of the most substantive policy changes that the administration has made to date.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday CJR Editor and Publisher Kyle Pope made the case that, rather than highlighting the Washington soap opera or responding to every Trump tweet attacking the media, “reporters should be focused on the president’s team and his policies, examining his remaking of American government.” With respect to Sessions and his policies, reporters are doing that, but the ‘will-he-or-won’t-he be fired’ drama that Trump performs on Twitter makes it difficult for those substantive stories to break through.

Below, more on the policies Sessions continues to push, even as his position is threatened.


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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.