In the long history of strange bedfellows in politics, there may be no more awkward alliance than the one that’s developed over the past year between congressional Democrats and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Senate Democrats were aghast when Donald Trump, then the president-elect, named one of his staunchest campaign supporters to lead the Justice Department a few weeks after his surprise election victory. They viewed Sessions as a virulently anti-immigrant legislator with a racist past, and as a Trump loyalist who would do the president’s bidding as attorney general while blocking criminal-justice reform and taking a buzz saw to civil and voting rights. All but one Democrat—Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia—voted against Sessions’s confirmation. And Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts fought so strenuously to defeat him that Senate Republicans used an obscure parliamentary rule to silence her.
As attorney general, Sessions has confirmed many of Democrats’ worst fears when it comes to policy, and in the early months of the Trump administration, a number of them called on him to resign over one controversy or another. But after the president’s latest round of attacks on his attorney general, and new comments from Republicans suggesting that he might be fired, Democrats now find themselves in the uncomfortable position of wanting Sessions to stay for one simple reason: He’s one of the only people standing between Trump and an abrupt end to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice.