What did I tell you back down the line?
I’ll scratch your back, you can scratch mine…

Steely Dan, “Gaucho,” 1980

You have to admit: it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and it feels good to see him get screwed.

Jeff Sessions probably looks in the mirror now and finds himself restraining the urge to vomit. He knows Donald Trump could fire him via Twitter at any moment for failing to scratch Trump’s back by choosing to recuse himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russiagate. He knows that Trump’s loyal fanbase will view him as a traitor. He knows that his political career will be over once he’s gone.


It’s not often that a political villain gets his or her comeuppance, but it’s happening now to Sessions. After all of his extremism over the decades, he now comes to find that he’s not considered extreme enough.

Let’s not forget just how sadistic Sessions was:

Having served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama since 1981, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was nominated for a seat on the United States District Court in Alabama in the fall of 1985. Months later, amidst accusations of racial insensitivity, his nomination was defeated.

At the time, Sessions had recently prosecuted three civil rights workers for voter fraud, alleging that 14 ballots had been tampered with. Known as the Marion Three, the civil rights workers were acquitted and cited by civil rights groups opposing Sessions’ nomination as evidence of his alleged racial animus.

The most headline-grabbing charges against Sessions, however, were made by Thomas Figures, an assistant United States Attorney for seven years and an African-American. Figures had been appointed to the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Alabama during the presidency of President Carter.

During Sessions’ confirmation hearings in 1986, Figures alleged that Sessions repeatedly displayed racial insensitivity around him.

‘I was regularly called ‘boy,’” Figures said. When asked by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who called him “boy,” Figures said, ”Mr. Sessions did, one or two of the other assistants.” One of those Assistant U.S. Attorney, Edward Vulevich, said Figures’ charge wasn’t true and called Sessions “a man of utmost integrity.”

Reached in Mobile, Alabama, this week, Mr. Figures told ABC News, “I stand by my testimony and I don’t know if anyone has questioned the veracity or the truth of it. And I don’t really care.”

Once after he’d been in a dispute with a white secretary in the US Attorney’s office, Figures said in his testimony, Sessions “called me into his office and indicated he felt I had been unduly harsh with the secretary. Mr. Sessions admonished me to ‘be careful what you say to white folks.’…Had Mr. Sessions merely urged me to be careful about what I said to ‘folks,’ that admonition would have been quite reasonable. But that was not the language that he used.”

YouTube video

One can imagine the sort of language Sessions is using now. After all he did for Trump, this is now he’s repaid–with international embarrassment.

Like Sean Spicer, it’s impossible to have any warm regards for ol’ Beauregard, who chose to align himself with amorality in the name of petty partisanship. Sessions presumably desired the job of Attorney General so that he could continue the racial harassment he engaged in as US Attorney decades ago. Now, Sessions is getting a taste of the public humiliation he believes only those he considers socially inferior should endure.

It’s hard to see any right-wing think tank bringing Sessions on board once he’s officially dismissed; the cable channels are unlikely to bring him on as an analyst, either. What will happen to him? Who cares, really? He will fade into well-deserved obscurity, while Trump selects another hack (Rudy Giuliani? Chris Christie?) to replace him.

Perhaps, like Sessions and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, they’ll all end up humiliated: Scott Pruitt, Steve Mnuchin, Ryan Zinke, Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross and the rest of this most motley of crews could run afoul of Trump for various reasons, only to wind up being dissed and dismissed. Will you have any sympathy if such a fate befalls these folks?

UPDATE: Speaking of Russiagate, the White House claims Trump will sign a bill strengthening sanctions on Russia. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.