After President Trump trashed Jeff Sessions on Twitter Monday morning, the White House appeared to twist the knife into the “beleaguered” attorney general even harder by leaking the name of a possible replacement: Rudy Giuliani.
Axios’s Mike Allen reports that “President Trump is so unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has raised the possibility of bringing back Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department, according to West Wing confidants.”
On Monday afternoon, Giuliani denied the report, and said that Sessions was right to recuse himself from the ongoing Russian electoral-interference probe.
Trump remains furious at Sessions over that decision, which has left him vulnerable to the investigative whims of special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Naturally, the president would prefer an attorney general who wouldn’t think of interfering in the increasingly likely event that he chooses to blow up everything up and fire Mueller.
Like Sessions, the ex-New York mayor — whose views on immigration and terrorism have veered sharply right in recent years — was an early and fervent backer of Trump. He gave a memorable, maniacal performance at the Republican National Convention last year, and he enthusiastically (if unhelpfully) defended Trump’s travel ban on television. And in November, he emerged as a contender to be secretary of State, a post that eventually went to Rex Tillerson.
But it’s hard to discern whether the Giuliani-to-Justice idea is all that serious. As Allen notes, “Trump often muses about possible personnel moves that he never makes, sometimes just to gauge the listener’s reaction.” And it’s difficult to imagine Giuliani garnering the 50 votes necessary for Senate confirmation, for a variety of reasons: his tangled financial dealings, his increasingly batty demeanor, and his unyielding loyalty to Trump (even some GOP senators would likely balk at the prospect of installing a presidential lackey in the midst of the widening Russia probe). Democratic senator Brian Schatz tweeted a flat “No” to the question of whether Giuliani’s nomination could succeed.
More likely, the White House is floating Giuliani’s name as part of its attempt to push the narrative that Sessions needs to go — all part of a broader attempt to undermine, discredit, and perhaps end the Russia investigation. At a White House gathering on Monday, Trump rolled his eyes in response to a reporter shouting “Should Jeff Sessions resign?”
For the hapless, still-not-yet-former attorney general, all this chaos may take some of the joy out of reviving unnecessarily punitive drug policies.
This post has been updated to include Giuliani’s denial.