Byrne: ‘Would be surprised’ if Trump doesn’t comment on Senate race; Sessions should have resigned AG post if he thought recusal was necessary
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) said former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of his opponents vying for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s U.S. Senate election in November, was fair game regarding his stint as the nation’s top law enforcement officer in the Trump administration.
In a wide-ranging interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Byrne explained that although President Donald Trump has largely remained publicly quiet about their U.S. Senate race, he anticipates Trump will eventually reveal his feelings on the contest and about Sessions.
“I would be surprised if he doesn’t,” Byrne said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “Every time I’m with him, he wants to talk about the Senate race in Alabama. Even when we’re in a big group of people, he wants to talk about it. He’s paying very close attention. He cares a lot. He cares about Alabama, number one. But he’s got some really hard feelings about Jeff [Sessions]. He really does. Even if he doesn’t say another word, take these two quotes: ‘The biggest mistake I ever made as president is appointing Jeff Sessions U.S. Attorney General.’ Or this quote, ‘Jeff Sessions is a disgrace to the great state of Alabama.’ Those two quotes that he made several months ago — I don’t see how Jeff gets over those.”
Byrne said he disagreed with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from any Department of Justice investigations into the 2016 elections and added that if Sessions believed his recusal was necessary, he should have resigned his post at attorney general given the scope of the investigation into the 2016 election.
“I don’t think he needed to recuse himself,” he said. “But if he felt like he needed to recuse himself, he should have resigned because he took himself out of a big chunk of what the attorney general is supposed to be doing. Look at all the things we learned in the inspector general’s report. Because he took himself off the playing field, months went by before we dealt with that. And now Attorney General Barr is dealing with that, thank God. If he couldn’t do his job, he should have said, ‘Look, I can’t do my job. I’m going to have to resign,’ and didn’t do that.”
Byrne’s sentiments echo those of another one of the candidates in the run for the 2020 GOP U.S. senatorial nod, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who a day earlier raised similar concerns about Sessions.
According to Byrne, Sessions should have seen the controversy looming on the horizon and not have accepted the appointment as attorney general during the 2016-2017 presidential transition.
“I don’t see how he didn’t see it was coming,” Byrne said. “But assuming that he didn’t — still, once he determined ‘I cannot be involved in this. I have to recuse myself,’ he should have resigned and let somebody else do that job. The president would have put him somewhere else. The president would have said, ‘OK, Jeff — you can’t do that. I’ll make you Secretary of Homeland Security.’ He would have done that. But that’s not what Jeff did. The people of Alabama have got to decide how they feel about that. But I think it is perfectly legitimate to bring that up. I think it is perfectly legitimate for Tommy Tuberville to bring that up. If Jeff is not ready to talk about, he needs to understand he is in a political campaign.”
Sessions has previously told Yellowhammer News the controversy regarding his tenure as attorney general had not come up on the campaign trail. However, Byrne said it comes up regularly for him.
“They bring it up with me all the time,” he said. “If I’ve heard this once, I’ve heard this 300 or 400 times in the last few weeks alone — they’re angry with him. They’re angry he even got in the race. That’s something he has got to deal with. And you know, you look at his television commercial — that’s his effort to try to deal with it. I think that’s fair game. When you get into a campaign like this, you’ve got to expect that. We’re going to hear more about that. You’ll be hearing more about that from voters or whoever. I’m sticking with what I’m talking about right now. You know, we’ve hit a real thread with the voters here. They like what’s in that commercial I’m showing right now, the personal touch with it. So I’m going to stay with that. It’s working for me, and I’m just going to stay right there.”