Republican lawmakers are telling President Trump to lay off of Jeff Sessions amid Trump’s repeated criticism of his own attorney general.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were among those voices rallying around Sessions, who Trump has needled over the last few days, publicly criticising his decision in March to recuse himself from Russia-related investigative matters concerning the Trump campaign.
Cruz told ABC News in a statement that the attorney general was “a friend and a strong conservative.” He added he was proud to vote to confirm Sessions, and was “deeply gratified” that “a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions serving as Attorney General.”
Sen. Luther Strange, who took Sessions’ Senate seat after Sessions left to join the Trump administration, released a statement calling Sesssions a “mentor, a great friend, and a man of the utmost integrity.”
He credited Sessions’ leadership for inspiring him to run for office, adding Sessions “continues to merit the admiration of his team at the DOJ, his former colleagues in the Senate, and the people of [Alabama].”
The senators also appeared to accuse the news media of blowing Trump’s taunts out of proportion. Cruz called stories around Sessions “false,” while Strange said “we need to stop letting the media distract us” from Trump’s agenda.
Neither directly called out the Trump for his attacks on Sessions.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama tweeted praise for Jeff Sessions’ character and said he has “deep respect” and “unwavering support” for Sessions. Shelby told Fox News he doesn’t agree with the claim that Sessions isn’t doing a good job, saying he hoped Jeff Sessions will stay.
He added Sessions has been “loyal to the president to a fault,” and added Sessions is attorney general of the US, “not the president’s personal lawyer.” Shelby said during the interview that it “wouldn’t be well-recieved” in DC if Trump fired Sessions.
Reps. Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby, representatives of the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts of Alabama, said “No one is better suited to run the Department of Justice than Jeff Sessions, and praised Sessions as “a man of great character and sound judgment.
Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama tweeted that Sessions was “keeping us safe by faithfully enforcing our laws and supporting our brave law enforcement officers.”
Alabama 4th Congressional District Rep. Robert Aderholt also tweeted about Sessions, offering his support and saying the attorney general was doing a “good job.”
Sessions received support from lawmakers outside of Alabama as well.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted a statement calling Sessions “one of the most decent people I’ve ever met in my political life,” and a “rock solid conservative who “believes in the rule of law” above all else. Graham also called Trump’s railings against Sessions “highly inappropriate.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, the junior senator from North Carolina, asserted that the attorney general’s “leadership is needed now more than ever.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn called Sessions “a good and honorable man,” in a CNN interview and said Sessions “did the right thing” recusing himself.
Ohio junior Sen. Rob Portman called Sessions “a man of deep conviction and principle who believes in the rule of law.”
At an unrelated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah called Sessions “a man of integrity.”
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Sessions is “a credit to the Department of Justice,” adding that he fully supports the attorney general.
Trump during a press conference with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday said he was “disappointed” in Sessions and left open Sessions’ ultimate fate: “Time will tell,” Trump said.