Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.
For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.
Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.
But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.
“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”
. . . .
At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.
“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.
The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.
“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.
But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.
. . . .
One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.
. . . .
Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.
A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.
“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!