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Mo Brooks, Mike Durant back Jeff Sessions on recusal in Russia probe

Brooks has a long record of publicly defending Sessions’ tenure as attorney general, including by directly bucking Trump to do so.

Mike Durant, left, and Mo Brooks, right.

Senate candidates Mo Brooks and Mike Durant claim loyalty to former President Donald Trump. However, when it comes to disgraced former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the pair breaks with Trump, praising his arch-nemesis.

Both Brooks and Durant say Sessions was correct in recusing himself from the Russia investigation, a direct contradiction to the former president’s thinking.

“He was the biggest problem,” Trump remarked in 2020. “I mean, look Jeff Sessions put people in place that were a disaster.”

Brooks, however, apparently publicly disagrees with Trump on Sessions to this day.

Brooks on Monday evening spoke to a local Republican group in Mobile, where he was asked by a College Republican from the University of South Alabama if he thinks Sessions will endorse him in the 2022 U.S. Senate race.

“I think if he were to endorse, that he would endorse me,” Brooks responded. “But whether he will endorse me is another matter.”

The six-term congressman then outlined it was not a matter of how he personally views Sessions but rather a game of political calculus as to the hypothetical endorsement’s appeal.

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“All of us carry with us pros and cons,” Brooks said. “And I’m endorsed by President Trump. If Jeff Sessions were to endorse me, the question then becomes, ‘How does President Trump like that?’ Because he and Jeff Sessions had a falling out. But I think the world of Jeff Sessions.”

“He [Sessions] was a great United States Senator,” Brooks said. “He was the best United States Senator I have had the privilege to meet, okay. That’s how highly I think of Jeff Sessions.”

“Now personally, I would love his endorsement. But there are smarter people than me that can figure out the pros and cons and how this affects winning and losing an election, which is the endgame,” he concluded.

Brooks has a long record of publicly defending Sessions’ tenure as attorney general, including by directly bucking Trump to do so.

Following Trump’s criticism of Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation in 2017, Brooks released a lengthy statement blasting Trump for his “public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced.” Brooks called Trump’s words “inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama who know Jeff Sessions so well.”

“I recognize that President Trump is popular in Alabama. My closest friends and political advisers have told me to not side with Jeff Sessions, that it will cost me politically to do so,” Brooks concluded. “My response is simple: I don’t care. If this costs me politically, that’s fine but I am going to do the right thing for Alabama and America. I stand with Jeff Sessions.”

Brooks also explicitly backed Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation.

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In a 2017 interview with MSNBC, which Brooks still touts on his official U.S. House website to this day, Brooks said “Sessions did exactly what he should have done.”

“I have known Jeff Sessions for many decades,” Brooks said. “He was an outstanding United States Senator, he was an outstanding Attorney General in the state of Alabama, and in my opinion, he is performing his duties as the Constitution requires as United States Attorney General. Under the circumstances presented, where Jeff Sessions was an active part of the Donald Trump for President campaign, Jeff Sessions did exactly what he should have done, recuse himself from this Russian investigation in order to minimize or eliminate the appearance of any impropriety.”

“So, I believe that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has acted exactly as he should have and I agree with Comey’s testimony in that regard, that Jeff Sessions acted as he should have in recusing himself in order to avoid any actual or appearance of impropriety,” he said.

In contrast, Trump – following Sessions’ second-place performance in Alabama’s Senate primary – tweeted in 2020: “This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

However, Brooks is not the only 2022 Alabama Senate candidate who continues to vocally back Sessions’ conduct in the face of Trump’s wrath.

Late-entrant Mike Durant at a recent event in Huntsville said he agreed with Brooks’ assessment that Sessions was “right” to recuse himself.

“I think Sessions thought he was doing what was right,” Durant said. “Sometimes that doesn’t play well. But that’s who I am and what I believe is right.”

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Durant noted he would be similar to Sessions in choosing what he thinks is “right” over what is “popular.”

Many Trump supporters would take issue with the position held by Brooks and Durant as was evident in Sessions’ loss to Tommy Tuberville when he sought to regain his old Senate seat.

Claiming to be pro-Trump and pro-Sessions at the same time may prove to be an inconsistency that even the former president might find offensive.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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