Philip Rucker and Robert Costa write in the Washington Post:
“In jagged black strokes, President Trump’s signature was scribbled onto a catalogue of executive orders over the past 10 days that translated the hard-line promises of his campaign into the policies of his government.
The directives bore Trump’s name, but another man’s fingerprints were also on nearly all of them: Jeff Sessions.
The early days of the Trump presidency have rushed a nationalist agenda long on the fringes of American life into action — and Sessions, the quiet Alabamian who long cultivated those ideas as a Senate backbencher, has become a singular power in this new Washington.
Sessions’s ideology is driven by a visceral aversion to what he calls “soulless globalism,” a term used on the extreme right to convey a perceived threat to the United States from free trade, international alliances and the immigration of nonwhites.
And despite many reservations among Republicans about that worldview, Sessions — whose 1986 nomination for a federal judgeship was doomed by accusations of racism that he denied — is finding little resistance in Congress to his proposed role as Trump’s attorney general.
Sessions, left, and then-President-elect Donald Trump speak at a “USA Thank You Tour” rally in Sessions’s home town of Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 17. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Sessions’s nomination is scheduled to be voted on Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but his influence in the administration stretches far beyond the Justice Department. From immigration and health care to national security and trade, Sessions is the intellectual godfather of the president’s policies. His reach extends throughout the White House, with his aides and allies accelerating the president’s most dramatic moves, including the ban on refugees and citizens from seven mostly Muslim nations that has triggered fear around the globe.
The author of many of Trump’s executive orders is senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a Sessions confidant who was mentored by him and who spent the weekend overseeing the government’s implementation of the refugee ban. The tactician turning Trump’s agenda into law is deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, Sessions’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate. The mastermind behind Trump’s incendiary brand of populism is chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who, as chairman of the Breitbart website, promoted Sessions for years.
Then there is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who considers Sessions a savant and forged a bond with the senator while orchestrating Trump’s trip last summer to Mexico City and during the darkest days of the campaign.
[Trump lays groundwork to change U.S. role in the world]
In an email in response to a request from The Washington Post, Bannon described Sessions as “the clearinghouse for policy and philosophy” in Trump’s administration, saying he and the senator are at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” and the global nationalist phenomenon.”
I suppose not surprisingly, Senator Session’s claim that he would rise above his past and be Attorney General for all Americans was just a disingenuous smokescreen. Well, as I’ve said before, sometimes philosophical bias prevents folks from acting both in their own self-interest and the national welfare. So, the fate of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts is likely to end up in the hands of the U.S. Courts of Appeals and, eventually, the Supreme Court. If nothing else, Sessions could find out that he’s going to spend most of the next four years without much immigration enforcement at all, as the Article III Courts sort this out. Dumb me, for giving the guy the “benefit of the doubt.”