One last indignity: Trump brings Sessions' career to an ignominious end

Sessions' humiliation should serve as a cautionary tale for his party: Trump will use whomever he can, and then discard those who outlive their usefulness.
Image: President Donald Trump, left, sits with Attorney General Jeff Session
President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., on Dec. 15, 2017.Evan Vucci / AP file
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By Steve Benen

It's easy to forget, but Jeff Sessions took a chance on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign when few would. At a time when most congressional Republicans saw the buffoonish television personality as a ridiculous candidate who couldn't possibly win, the then-Alabama senator threw his support behind the New Yorker. Sessions was later rewarded with the attorney general's office.

It wasn't long, however, before the political marriage's honeymoon ended. When Sessions, left with little choice, recused himself from the investigation into the Russia scandal, Trump turned on his former ally with vengeance. The president proceeded to spend much of his term ridiculing and humiliating the Alabaman -- not for wrongdoing, but because Sessions was insufficiently corrupt by Trump's standards.

Yesterday, Sessions suffered one last indignity at the hands of a man whom he helped elevate four years earlier.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom President Donald Trump ousted in 2018, lost his bid to reclaim his old U.S. Senate seat from Alabama. Sessions conceded Tuesday night and urged Alabamians to stand behind former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville as the Republican nominee.

The primary runoff was not close: Tuberville won by 20 points, with Sessions losing 64 of Alabama's 67 counties. It was an ignominious end to a long, and at times ugly, political career.

The president, whose support propelled the former college football coach, predictably celebrated on Twitter last night, and it's easy to understand why: Trump was determined to destroy Sessions' career, and last night marked the successful completion of his task.

The cautionary tale for Republicans everywhere should be obvious: Trump will gladly use whomever he can to advance his own interests, and then discard those who outlive their usefulness.

Tuberville, a first-time candidate, now advances to a general election against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D), and given Alabama's status as one of the nation's most ruby-red states, the former coach stands a good chance at winning the Senate seat.

But it's been an open secret in Democratic circles that Jones and his allies saw Sessions as the greater electoral threat. Indeed, one of the ironies of the GOP contest is that Trump and Democrats wanted the same thing for very different reasons.

Tuberville may be the favorite, but he's an inexperienced politician who doesn't much care for public appearances and doesn't know Alabama especially well. Complicating matters, Tuberville's only non-football-related experience is running a failed hedge fund.

This isn't to say Democrats should get their hopes up about Alabama's Senate race -- Jones eked out a narrow win against Roy Moore in a 2017 special election, when Trump wasn't on the statewide ballot at the time -- but all things considered, Sessions worried Democrats more.

All of which is to say, the president isn't the only one pleased with yesterday's results.