Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized President Trump’s “youth insults” on Saturday in a marked departure from his typically lukewarm responses during the years of attacks by his former boss.
Trump had tweeted that Sessions was a “disaster” while offering support to Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville, who is running against Sessions for the Senate seat he held for decades before joining the Trump administration. “Jeff Sessions is a disaster that has disappointed us all. We don’t want him to go back to Washington!” Trump wrote.
“I have taken the road less traveled,” Sessions replied on Twitter on Saturday. “I did not seek fame or fortune. My honor and integrity are far more important than these youthful insults. Your scandalized candidate is too cowardly to debate. As you know, Alabama is not taking orders from Washington.”
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Trump denounced his own attorney general after the latter withdrew from the Russia investigation in 2017. Earlier this year, Sessions said he did not regret the challenge, which came in response to scrutiny surrounding his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Sessions’ response came a few days before he faced Tuberville in the second round on Tuesday. Polls in May showed that Sessions was behind Tuberville by six points.
When Sessions launched his Senate nomination this year, he sparked the ire of the Trump campaign for trying to tie himself to the president.
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“President Trump and his campaign do not endorse his efforts to return to the United States Senate,” wrote Trump’s director of campaign operations, Michael Glassner, in a letter to Sessions at the time. “We demand that you and your campaign immediately stop circulating advertisements, or any other similar communication, that mistakenly suggests otherwise.”
Some conservatives have continued to support Sessions even when Trump launched a series of attacks on him.
“The sessions HAD to recuse, you’re a complete idiot,” conservative author Ann Coulter wrote to Trump in a May tweet. “YOU didn’t have to go to the Lester Holt show and announce that you fired Comey because of the Russian investigation. That’s what a Special Prosecutor got for you.”
Earlier this week, he noted a New York Times article accusing Tuberville of leading business ventures that “turned out to be financial fraud.” Investors sued Tuberville while his business partner, John David Stroud, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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Tuberville reportedly denied wrongdoing and said, “They sued me because I invested in him and he used my name to get other people to put money.”
He added: “No one had implied that he had done something wrong. I felt bad that he used my name. “