Rep. Mo BrooksMo BrooksGOP Senate candidate: concerns about Trump are ‘coming to fruition’ Mo Brooks would leave Senate race to reinstate Sessions GOP rep. says McConnell is ‘head of the swamp’ MORE (R-Ala.) warned Wednesday that his previous criticisms of President Trump during the 2016 presidential primary may be coming true as he lambasted the president for his public criticism of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsLA mayor vows to defy Trump administration on immigration: report GOP Senate candidate: concerns about Trump are ‘coming to fruition’ GOP senator on Trump’s attacks: Sessions ‘deserves better’ MORE and for failing to live up to campaign promises.
Brooks, who is running in a special election to serve out the rest of Sessions’s term in the Senate, has been tarred by allies of Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) as a Trump opponent. Strange, who was appointed to Sessions’s vacated Senate seat, and his allies have pointed to Brooks’s criticism of Trump during the 2016 presidential primary.
But while Brooks had previously responded by defending his relationship with the president, Brooks broke with Trump in a Wednesday interview on Alabama’s News Talk 93.1.
“The reservations I expressed during the Republican primary, I think a lot of them are coming to fruition, particularly on border security issues and particularly in respect to what is happening to what I believe is an outstanding man,” Brooks said, referencing Sessions.
“I really find disconcerting President Trump’s public and personal attacks on a man I know to be of the highest character, Jeff Sessions.”
Trump has kept Sessions, once a trusted confidant, twisting in the wind for days as he continues to criticize him on social media for his decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.
Now Brooks appears to be hugging Sessions tight while distancing himself from Trump. He released a statement Wednesday afternoon promising to drop out of the race if his rivals agreed to give Sessions his Senate seat back.
Brooks has defended his previous criticism of Trump on multiple occasions, noting that he’s “never taken back any of the words or comments I made during the 2016 election.” While supporting Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGOP Senate candidate: concerns about Trump are ‘coming to fruition’ GOP leader: Senate could pass scaled-down ObamaCare repeal Graham: Trump ‘absolutely’ showing weakness on Sessions MORE (R-Texas) in the GOP primary, Brooks said he couldn’t trust a “serial adulterer” like Trump and that his supporters will ultimately regret voting for him because he won’t follow through on his promises.
Much of Brooks’s criticism of Trump hinged on his record in office, particularly accusations that Trump hasn’t held to his campaign promises.
When asked by the interviewer whether he has confidence in Trump, Brooks said “it depends on the issue.” He noted that he supports Trump’s choice of Justice Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, but he argued that Trump has failed to deliver on finding a way for Mexico to pay for a border wall.
“Overall on border security, he’s doing far better than Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonHouse Intelligence Republican: Claims Gowdy acted as second lawyer for Kushner ‘horses—t’ GOP Senate candidate: concerns about Trump are ‘coming to fruition’ GOP senator on Trump’s attacks: Sessions ‘deserves better’ MORE would have and he’s doing far better than Barack ObamaBarack ObamaColbert mocks Trump speech with new Boy Scout oath GOP Senate candidate: concerns about Trump are ‘coming to fruition’ Live coverage: Senate debates repealing ObamaCare MORE ever did, but he’s still not going as far as he promised during the campaign,” Brooks said.
“He’s still averaging about 10,000 work permits issued per month to illegal aliens in direct conflict with one of his campaign promises. That’s something he doesn’t need a vote from Congress on.”
Even a commercial break during the interview kept up the heat on Brooks. During the break, the station played a radio ad from the Senate Conservatives Fund, a super PAC that is allied with the GOP’s Senate leadership and is supporting Strange, that rehashed Brooks’s primary attacks on Trump.
After the break, Brooks said that he still agrees with his comments used in that ad, and he pointed to healthcare as another place where Trump has fallen short.
“The president calls me up and thanks me for all my work in helping to get the healthcare act out of the House of Representatives,” he said.
“We have a huge celebration over at the White House and the Rose Garden where he’s talking about it basically as the best thing since sliced bread. Then a few weeks later he’s describing it in words such as ‘mean’ and ‘cruel.’ Jeez, how are you supposed to handle that?
Brooks, Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore are the top three candidates ahead of the Aug. 15 Republican Senate primary. It’s a virtual certainty that none of the three candidates will win the majority of the vote, sending the race to a runoff in September.
Strange was appointed to the seat to fill the seat in the interim, but the winner of the runoff and the subsequent general election will serve out the remainder of Sessions’s term through 2020.
Most polling suggests that Moore is the frontrunner, with Brooks and Strange battling for the second spot in the runoff.