Sessions Advances Trump’s Agenda Despite President’s Criticism

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Gun prosecutions are up, sanctuary city funds have been restricted, and MS-13 has been put on notice. You wouldn’t know it if you read President Donald Trump’s tweets, but it’s been a productive week for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The president sent out various tweets this week targeting Sessions, labeling him “beleaguered” and “very weak.” These insults came days after Trump told The New York Times that he regretted nominating Sessions due to his recusal from the investigation into Russian election interference.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, continued to insist thatTrump didn’t want Sessions to step down. “You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job,” she said.

Sources close to Sessions insisted to The Daily Caller that Sessions isn’t the kind of man to resign and will instead focus on his agenda.

El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren (L), shakes hands with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a visit in San Salvador, El Salvador, July 27, 2017. Presidency El Salvador/Handout via Reuters

Attorney General Jeff Sessions with El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, July 27, 2017. Presidency El Salvador/Handout via Reuters

The attorney general’s broad aims have been to rigidly enforce the law, focusing particularly on drug crime or immigration. Sessions sent out a memo to federal prosecutors in March directing them to prioritize the prosecution of gun crimes, and since then the number of defendants charged with unlawful possession of a firearms increased by nearly 23 percent compared to the same time period in 2017.

“Violent crime is on the rise in many parts of this country, with 27 of our biggest 35 cities in the country coping with rising homicide rates,” Sessions said in a statement Friday. “Following President Trump’s Executive Order to focus on reducing crime, I directed federal prosecutors to prioritize taking illegal guns off of our streets, and as a result, we are now prosecuting hundreds more firearms defendants.”

Sessions also placed restrictions on roughly $380 million in federal law enforcement grants. These guidelines don’t allow law enforcement agencies to receive the federal money if they don’t comply with a law that mandates the sharing of immigration information to federal officials, permit Department of Homeland Security officials access to detention facilities to meet with immigrants, and notify DHS 48 hours prior to release of an immigrant that DHS wants to detain.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

In addition to both of these actions, Sessions traveled to El Salvador Thursday as part of the administration’s fight against the MS-13 street gang, which is based out of the Central American nation and has roughly 10,000 members in the U.S. This is one area in particular where both the president and the attorney general are on the same page. Trump spoke in Long Island Friday and described his administration’s efforts against the gang that recruits young men from the Central American immigrant community.

And in a win for President Trump’s fight against leakers, the attorney general told Fox News Thursday that “people need to go to jail” for criminal leaks.

As one Sessions ally put it to TheDC, Sessions “just intends to do his job and enforce the law.”