The Risk Brooks Took: Choosing Sessions Over Trump

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Congressman Mo Brooks, who is running for U.S. Senate, broke with President Trump to support longtime friend and colleague Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

NYMag

Congressman Mo Brooks made it clear just how he feels about President Donald Trump’s public berating of Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the last several days. Brooks called it “public waterboarding.” Until recently, Brooks’ campaign for U.S. Senate has centered on playing up his loyalty to President Trump. But the president’s intensifying attacks on Sessions have led Brooks to make a choice. And he chose Sessions. “He’s a man of integrity, he’s a man of honor, he’s diligent, he’s intelligent. He does the right thing,” Brooks says. 

Brooks says he reacted mildly to the president’s early criticisms of Sessions, but as the attacks intensified with Trump calling Sessions weak and accusing him of attending Trump’s rallies because Sessions is “self-centered”, Brooks says he had to take a stand. “I would have much preferred that if President Trump had a disagreement with Jeff Sessions, that it be, those disagreements be aired behind closed doors, not in front of the public where in effect you’re disparaging one of Alabama’s best.”

But Trump has strong support among Alabama voters, so the move to break with the president and support Sessions was risky during this heated Senate campaign. “There is always that risk, and quite frankly, the people of Alabama are torn,” Brooks says. Alabamians love Sessions, but on the other hand, Brooks says, they’re grateful Trump beat Hillary Clinton. “And yes, I had advisors that said ‘Mo, don’t support Jeff Sessions in this election setting that you’re in because there are a lot of President Trump supporters who might get mad at you if you support Jeff Sessions. And I’m willing to take the consequences whatever they may be come hell or high water,” he said.

Brooks says he is so committed to restoring Sessions’ prestige that he’s offered to bow out of the Senate race to pave the way for Sessions to return to the Senate. This would require the other Republican candidates to do the same. Brooks talks about how realistic this is:

How much does Brooks have to lose? Recent polling shows Brooks in third place behind Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Brooks talks about his odds in the Senate primary, especially in light of the enormous financial backing Strange has received from various Washington Super PACs, including those affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Gigi Douban

Gigi Douban

News Director