In Alabama, the big defeat Tuesday of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat he formerly held for more than 20 years was widely anticipated.
Sessions' loss by a strong margin of 3-to-2 to onetime Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, in effect, made him a victim of the "Russiagate" investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
President Trump never forgave Sessions — the first and only U.S. Senator to endorse him for the Republican presidential nomination — for recusing himself as attorney general from the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Convinced that this recusal was responsible for the appointment of Mueller and the resulting two-year investigation, Trump strongly endorsed Tuberville, appeared with the former coach, and repeatedly tweeted insults at Sessions, such as calling his former attorney general a "loser."
On Tuesday, Trump was featured in robocalls to voters urging a vote for Tuberville.
"Sessions was a victim of his decision to recuse himself in the decision over whether to appoint Mueller," Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of several books on contemporary politics, told Newsmax. "He did the right thing, but it was entirely his choice."
The embattled Sessions insisted that he had to recuse himself because of his support for Trump during the election and his failure to disclose during his Senate confirmation hearing two meetings he had with former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak.
As Olsen put it, "I think he would have been pilloried, given his failure to accurately testify to his own contacts with the Russian ambassador, had he not recused himself."
He added that "[Sessions'] decision meant the Mueller investigation started free of taint, which made its eventual failure to find anything meaningful more important."
For many conservatives who have followed Sessions' career, his swan song at age 73 is sad and unnecessary. With a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 93.75%, the Alabamian was a hardline opponent of illegal immigration and a supporter of limiting immigration — "Amnesty's Worst Enemy," National Review dubbed him.
He was strongly pro-life, a backer of tax cuts who once wanted George W. Bush's tax cuts made permanent, and shared Trump's get-tough policy on trade.
As one Alabama Republican put it, "Jeff was Trump before Trump."
Sessions' impact on Trump's campaign and administration was enhanced by Stephen Miller, his longtime communications director who is now one of the president's closest domestic policy advisors.
Tuberville is now the favorite in November to take out Democrat Sen. Doug Jones, who won a special election in 2017 to succeed Sessions after he joined Trump's Cabinet.
As for Jeff Sessions, presidential historian David Pietrusza may have put it best: "He certainly was not the Trump candidate, but neither was he an actual anti-Trump candidate. He was merely a punching bag that got punched out."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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