President Trump has changed his stances on NATO, Syria, the Export-Import Bank, Janet Yellen and Chinese currency manipulation all in the past week. But concerned Trump supporters may want to look towards Attorney General Jeff Sessions for comfort.
Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, was one of Trump’s earliest backers and has long been an advocate of tough immigration and drug enforcement. The attorney general is ideologically aligned with two of the main core issues Trump ran on — trade and immigration. Two former staffers of his, Stephen Miller and Rick Dearborn, both hold key White House positions.
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon reportedly encouraged Sessions to run for president, and now that the former Breitbart executive reportedly is losing favor, Sessions is poised to be in a position to keep Trump tethered to his campaign platform. One Breitbart insider told The Daily Caller that Sessions could be “all we have left,” if Bannon was to leave the White House.
In his time at the helm of the DOJ, Sessions has made it clear he will reverse several Obama-era initiatives. He has announced a review of all existing DOJ policies, which includes consent decrees. These are police reform agreements that Sessions said Thursday are detrimental for police morale.
The DOJ is not the primary agency when it comes to immigration enforcement. However, Sessions has taken many steps to curb illegal immigration.
He said the DOJ will “claw back” law enforcement grants from sanctuary cities, announced a hiring surge of immigration judges, called for U.S. Attorneys’ offices to prioritize the prosecution of immigration crimes, and expanded a program designed to deport criminal immigrants.
During a recent interview on Fox News, Sessions said, “The border is not open. Please don’t come.”
President Trump also focused much on crime during his run for the presidency. “Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” Trump said at the Republican convention. “I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.”
Sessions has spoken with similar rhetoric while in office. “The latest FBI data tell us that from 2014 to 2015, the violent crime rate in the U.S. increased by more than 3 percent — the largest one-year increase since 1991. The murder rate increased 10 percent — the largest increase since 1968,” the attorney general said in a recent speech to chiefs of police.
He added, “My fear is that this surge in violent crime is not a ‘blip,’ but the start of a dangerous new trend — one that puts at risk the hard-won gains that have made our country a safer place.”
One of the ways Sessions intends to combat this “surge in violent crime” is through increased drug enforcement.
The Washington Post wrote last week, “How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs.” The story detailed how Sessions has appointed federal prosecutor Steven Cook to a key role. Cook wants to undo Obama-era policies and have prosecutors pursue mandatory-minimum sentences and increased drug and gun prosecutions.
“If hard-line means that my focus is on protecting communities from violent felons and drug traffickers, then I’m guilty,” Cook told The Post. “I don’t think that’s hard-line. I think that’s exactly what the American people expect of their Department of Justice.”