OP-ED: It’s Reset Time At The Justice Department
Jeff Sessions has been perhaps the most surprising disappointment of this administration.
The first Senator to throw his lot behind the renegade Trump campaign at a time when the entire Republican establishment was united against the brash New Yorker, Sessions was in a perfect position to advance the President’s agenda at The Department of Justice by shaking up the status quo of lackadaisical immigration enforcement, weak policies on terrorism, and a hands-off policy towards Obama/Clinton era Democratic corruption.
Sessions wasted these opportunities right at the outset of the administration with his boneheaded and unnecessary decision to recuse himself in any matter connected with the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. This crippled his authority over the Department right off the bat, and put hostile careers and Obama appointees at Justice in the driver’s seat for the duration of his tenure; effectively turning the Attorney General into a ceremonial post relegated to speaking at Law School commencements and the occasional ribbon cutting ceremony.
Cowed by the Deep State bureaucrats under his command, he compounded this mistake with his insistence on having Comey and Mueller ally Rod Rosentstein serve as his deputy. Rosenstein took effective control of the Department upon Sessions’ Russia recusal, which has proved a disastrous impediment to advancing the interests of the President, allowing a phony investigation of Russian collusion to consume the political energies of the administration and feeding the establishment dream of overturning the election results of two years ago.
While in office, Sessions has pursued his own agenda on issues where he retains some authority, in direct contradiction to the President’s agenda and political well-being.
For example, strongly against the trend toward the legalization of marijuana at the state level, Sessions has stacked the deck by helping convene a secret commission to provide the president with exclusively negative information regarding effects of pot consumption and the experience of states that have taken legalization measures. He also rescinded the Cole memo on marijuana enforcement at the state level, yet another example of his insistence on pursuing a personal agenda at serious political cost to the president.
It was past time for Sessions to go, and filling his position at Justice creates an opportunity to turn around numerous negative narratives he has created for Trump.
It is time for an attorney general that can do the job, in an uncompromised, vigorous fashion.
Of the various names being floated out there by Washington insiders, a few are political non-starters. John Sullivan, the current deputy secretary of state should be dismissed out of hand — in part, if not exclusively, for his decision to pursue a witch hunt against Trump political appointees at State. He was a Tillerson pick, and should probably rejoin Tillerson in the private sector.
Strong choices include: Janice Rogers Brown, a former United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Chuck Coooper, a strong appellate attorney and litigator in Washington, DC; Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas who is 100 percent behind the President and a rising star in the immigration debate; Adam Laxalt the current Attorney General of Nevada, and Mike Carvin, a strong attorney with extensive DOJ and appellate court experience.
All of the above would be great loyal choices for POTUS and would turn the Justice department around. President Trump needs his top law enforcement official firing on all cylinders and aggressively countering the inevitable shenanigans of a newly empowered House Democratic leadership over the next few years to put him in a strong position for the re-elect in 2020. Since his choice for the next Attorney General needs to be a bold one, he can’t afford to heed the voices of the usual cautious Republican-establishment fixers who have inevitably steered him wrong when he has bothered to take their counsel. A strong Trumpster at Justice can change everything.
Rob Wasinger is the former Director of Senate and Gubernatorial Affairs for President Trump’s White House.
Follow him on Twitter at @RobertWasinger.