Jeff Sessions is in serious trouble. Our affable attorney general with the antebellum values has been, ever since he took the oath of office. This realization is great news for anyone who cares about criminal justice, drug policy and the American republic—because it means that Jeff Sessions, Cotton Hill with a Cabinet position, can’t get anything done.
Sessions took over America’s federal law enforcement apparatus knowing that he’d had contact with Russian officials—and knowing that he neglected to share this fact with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation hearings, despite being asked directly. In some circles—legal ones, mostly, like the one in which Sessions’s Justice Department is supposed to operate—this is called perjury.
Perjury, as we oldest Millennials will recall, is one of the crimes for which Bill Clinton was impeached and eventually disbarred.
Now, as has been said many times of late, impeaching a top-echelon politician has very little to do with whatever ethics or principles they allegedly have violated. It has everything to do with politics, as in who’s in charge and who’s not.
Clinton did things that were not good, but it took a Newt Gingrich-led Congress, which had been after Clinton’s head for years, to impeach him. And it took the resulting 1998 midterm elections, in which the Republicans lost seats in shocking fashion, to end it.
In a similar fashion, it’s not inconceivable that Sessions could find himself at the wrong end of a Democratic Party-led House or Senate in early 2019—that is, unless something else emerges in the meantime that could force him to go the way of disgraced shill-for-hire Michael Flynn.
This risk—and not because famously yelly and notoriously forgetful Donald Trump yelled at him because he recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia—is a better theory for why Sessions apparently offered his resignation to the president sometime last month.
No Sessions means no investigation into Sessions—and no spectacle like Tuesday’s grilling at the Senate Intelligence Committee—in which Sessions prevaricated between outright stonewalling and convenient amnesia and which is quite likely the preamble for much worse.
— Jezebel (@Jezebel) June 13, 2017
This is the context in which Sessions’s May 1 letter to Congress, requesting the Justice Department be re-gifted the ability to put medical-marijuana providers in federal prison, must be viewed.
As MassRoots’s Tom Angell reported on Monday, Sessions tried to convince Congress not to pass a budget rider that protects medical cannabis operations from federal prosecution as long as they obey state law.
And Sessions failed!
Congress ignored him, and went ahead and passed the rider anyway.
There are legitimate political reasons why Congress would ignore him, yes—after all, MAGA Republicans representing conservative-for-all-time districts back marijuana reform, and states are roaring forward with marijuana legalization as if Sessions was actually a Confederate general and not an ersatz Civil War monument—but they can also ignore him with impunity, because he is in trouble.
Ergo, Jeff Sessions can’t do anything about medical marijuana.
For all his saber-rattling, Jeff Sessions’s war on cannabis has so far been entirely phony. For that matter, let’s briefly review Sessions’s accomplishments as attorney general.
And—we’re done. There aren’t any.
In this, Trump and Sessions are kindred spirits. Trump shares this blank track record with his attorney general, who, let us not forget, was picked for the job for the following qualifications: He was among the first to shill for Trump, back when there were still somewhat-principled, much more reasonable options available, and he never tried to put Jared Kushner’s father, who is a stone-cold crook, in federal prison, where people of his caliber belong.
It’s too early to start celebrating, particularly when Democratic senators responsible for concocting a plan to save more than 20 million Americans’ health insurance appear too preoccupied with real-life John Le Carré scenarios to concoct a plan to do it.
But for now, Jeff Sessions is effectively neutralized, and it was an inside job.