Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSenate panel advances measure to protect medical marijuana states Sessions is the nicest man in town — but don’t mistake that for weakness Sessions: Trump’s attacks on me were ‘hurtful’ MORE is implementing President Trump’s agenda across a wide front, and anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t paying attention. Sessions has restored a reverence for — and defense of — the Constitution and the rule of law at the Department of Justice that was sorely lacking during the eight years of the lawless Obama administration, which was characterized by attorneys general who were either held in contempt of Congress or who directed the director of the FBI to stop referring to the Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonFusion GPS: White House trying to smear us on Russia OPINION | Gen. Hayden: How the Russians played the Trumps Book on Bannon getting made into TV series MORE email investigation as an “investigation,” and refer to it instead as a “matter.”
Sessions helped the president achieve his greatest — and potentially longest lasting and most deeply impactful — success to date, which was the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Candidate Trump’s promise to appoint someone “in the mold” of the late Antonin Scalia — and his delivery as president — have earned him more goodwill among conservatives than perhaps he realizes. Sessions helped him achieve that, and he should be recognized for it.
Sessions has stepped up criminal investigations into national security leaks — apparently sourced from the U.S. intelligence community — that have exploded in the last six months. He has led President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which is expected to release a report next week that may link marijuana use to violent crime, and make the argument for tougher enforcement of federal laws against marijuana.
And when it comes to implementing Trump’s agenda on illegal immigration — perhaps the president’s single most important campaign promise as the one that allowed him to capture an entire demographic group beyond the reach of recent previous GOP presidential candidates — there is no one doing more than the attorney general.
First, Sessions is overseeing the defense of the president’s executive order directing the temporary suspension of immigration from certain countries — a defense that succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling blocking implementation of the order.
Second, Sessions has informed leaders of so-called “sanctuary cities” that their continued refusal to abide by the law and cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities puts at risk their access to federal grants.
Third, Sessions has stepped up enforcement of laws against illegal immigration and has helped draw attention to a new attitude toward illegal immigration, which is helping achieve a significant reduction in illegal immigration over the first months of the Trump administration.
The rest of the president’s agenda — ObamaCare repeal, tax reform and infrastructure — is stalled in Congress. These big-ticket issues are in a holding pattern as Republican congressional leaders figure out how to move the agenda.
Contrast that to the attorney general. Unlike Congress, Sessions is actually moving the ball forward on implementing major elements of the Trump agenda. That’s not surprising. Of the “big four” cabinet appointments — at the State Department, Defense Department, Treasury Department and Justice Department — Attorney General Sessions is the only one with even one day’s experience in government at any level.
Not only that, it’s not just any old government experience. He’s got exactly the kind of experience you’d want in an attorney general: service as an assistant U.S. attorney, as a U.S. attorney, as his state’s attorney general, and then 20 years as a U.S. senator, during the entirety of which he served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As a senator, Sessions demonstrated his political strength on multiple occasions. He led the fight against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill in 2013, and he was a strong proponent of the “defund ObamaCare” effort later that year. In both cases, he stood firm against his party’s leadership when he believed them to be wrong, and he earned the respect of the conservative grassroots.
And as for personal strength? Remember how he got to the Senate in the first place. After being wrongly denied a federal judgeship by the vote of his home state senator, Alabama Democrat Howell Heflin, he picked himself up, continued his service as a U.S. attorney, and got himself elected his state’s attorney general.
Years later, when Heflin announced his intent to retire, Sessions declared his intention for the open seat and won a hard-fought primary and a hard-fought general election. Then, capping the irony, he took a seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Jeff Sessions is the nicest man I have met in Washington. He is an unfailing gentleman and is courteous to a fault. But those who have come to know him also know that his courtliness should not be mistaken for weakness. It’s not. If he were still alive, you could ask Howell Heflin.
Jenny Beth Martin is president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.