Relations between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump have not been good for several months. The president was supposedly irate with Sessions last spring when the AG recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which led to the appointment of an independent prosecutor. Then earlier this week, Trump publicly scolded Sessions for not doing anything about surveillance abuse accusations from FISA courts, which led to a response from the Attorney General.
All these incidents seems to indicate that the relationship between Sessions and Trump is deteriorating and he may not be long for this administration. If that’s the case, here are some candidates who could replace him.
The former New Jersey governor was an early supporter of Trump during the 2016 election. He was briefly considered as a possible running mate, and after the election was seen as a candidate for Attorney General. If Sessions leaves, getting a Trump ally into the administration may seem like a good option. It was also Jared Kushner who allegedly stopped Christie’s nomination in 2016, and now that he may be out of favor in the White House, Christie may have more support.
The former mayor of New York City and U.S. Attorney would actually be fairly qualified for the position. He’s also often trotted out to defend Trump in the media for the past few years. Another Trump ally, but would some of his more controversial statements in recent years prevent him from being confirmed?
Cruz previously worked in the Bush administration and served as Solicitor General for the state of Texas before being elected to the Senate. While that’s not exactly a shining endorsement for Attorney General, it’s certainly more qualifications than many Trump appointees. But Cruz has been very lukewarm towards Trump since losing the 2016 Republican nomination to him, and the administration may want someone who’s a bigger ally for the position. He’s also running for re-election this year, and taking him out of that race could put that seat in jeopardy for Republicans.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Grassley would technically be in charge of helping appoint whoever the Trump administration nominates for Attorney General. Why not choose the guy who knows the most about these issues? The only issue is it would leave another open seat in the Senate, and Republicans may worry about losing another special election.
Technically, as soon as Sessions were to resign, Rosenstein would become acting head of the Department of Justice since he’s already the Deputy Attorney General. As the number two in the Department, he’d be an obvious candidate to take over full-time. But considering Rosenstein’s the one who actually ordered the special prosecutor for the Russian election investigation, we’re guessing Trump would not support him.
You’ve probably never heard of Kris Kobach, for good reason. The Kansas Secretary of State is most known for instituting several anti-immigration policies while in office. Kobach was reportedly a candidate to be Attorney General in 2016, which people thought was absurd, but frankly in line with what we know about the Trump administration. It’s hard to imagine he’d actually get through the confirmation process, but we’re guessing Trump wouldn’t be opposed to it.
The current House Republican has stated that he will not run for re-election this year and wants to return to the justice system where he began his career. He was considered a candidate for Attorney General after the 2016 election, and he’s defended Trump in the media. However, he also helped write the controversial “Nunes” memo that contained lies and falsehoods to discredit the election meddling investigation, so Democrats may not allow his confirmation.
The current Florida Attorney General was another candidate that was considered in 2016, but ultimately lost out to Sessions. Bondi supported Trump in the Republican primary in 2016, so she’d definitely be an ally for the administration. However, she’s also been involved in allegations of campaign contribution violations related to a donation she received from a Trump-related PAC. Democrats would probably use that against her.
Of course, if Trump actually wanted to pick a candidate who would be fair and balanced, and not just act like a lackey, he could pick someone like James Comey. But let’s face it, that’s never going to happen.