As President Donald Trump considers firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he has reportedly weighed how the decision would play in conservative media circles.
The Washington Post reported late Monday that he has asked advisers about the potential cover he’d have among conservatives if he fired Sessions, whom Trump has criticised for recusing himself from the ongoing probe into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.
The Post reported that a person close to Trump said he asked about how firing Sessions “would play in the conservative media” and whether it would help to replace Sessions “with a major conservative.”
But if the president does decide to fire Sessions, he may not have as many backers in the conservative media as he has for past controversial decisions.
Some of Trump’s biggest boosters on the right have expressed wariness or open opposition to firing Sessions.
Last week, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson called attacking Sessions a “useless, self-destructive act,” and said it was a “worrisome sign the president may be forgetting who is on his side.”
“Don’t shoot the friendlies,” Carlson said on his show last week. “Sessions is the closest allies Trump has in his administration.”
Other conservative outlets were also critical of the potential decision.
Breitbart News, a longtime booster and defender of the former Alabama senator, has recently praised Sessions’ “enormous success” as attorney general. The site published a story on Tuesday saying the president “endangers immigration agenda because Sessions followed his lead on Hillary crimes.”
In another story titled “Trump-Sessions Tensions Test Foundation of Populist Nationalism,” Breitbart’s Ian Mason argued that Sessions helped lay the ideological groundwork for Trump, and said his endorsing Trump in August 2015 demanded “political courage.”
“Sessions’s ouster would be a devastating blow to the prestige and prominence of the nationalist-populist underpinnings of the wider Trump movement,” Mason wrote on Monday. “Not only was Sessions the first sitting U.S. Senator to endorse Donald Trump for president, he and his staff were instrumental in formulating the ideological framework that would become ‘Trumpism.'”
Other major conservative media figures also warned Trump not to fire his attorney general.
Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter noted on Twitter that Trump himself said he would not urge the Department of Justice to continue to investigate former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server.
According to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa, Coulter also said the president shouldn’t let Sessions hang in limbo.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Monday seemed to be torn over whether Trump should fire Sessions, describing him as a “by-the-book attorney general” who didn’t need to recuse himself from the Russia probe.
“It’s also kind of, you know, a little bit discomforting, unseemly for Trump to go after such a loyal supporter this way, especially when Sessions made it obvious he’s not gonna resign,” Limbaugh said.
Still, Trump found some allies among his online boosters.
Trump confidante Roger Stone and right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich have called on the attorney general to resign, echoing the president’s complaints about Sessions’ refusal to reopen investigations into Clinton, and his attempts to crack down on states’ decriminalization of marijuana.
Others have remained relatively silent.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, who seems to revel in attacking opponents on Twitter, has not tweeted about Sessions in weeks, and has avoided the topic on his television show in recent days.
Ann Coulter emails WashPost w/ msg for Pres. Trump: “Be a man — if you don’t want Sessions, then fire him. You’re the PRESIDENT.”
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 25, 2017
As much as I personally admire AG Sessions he has to go:
– Civil forfeiture, which is unconstitutional
– Reefer madness
He’s out of touch.
— Mike Cernovich ???????? (@Cernovich) July 19, 2017
Firing Flynn was first big mistake of the Trump Admin (show weakness).
There are real crimes (leaks, Hillary’s emails / pay-for-play) happening and AG Sessions wants to go after marijuana. Madness.
— Mike Cernovich ???????? (@Cernovich) July 23, 2017