Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who for the past several days has been enduring regular attacks from President Donald Trump, was the first Republican senator to endorse Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
As Business Insider writes, a new book about the 2016 campaign reveals that top White House political strategist Steve Bannon — who at the time was the chief of Breitbart News — was the one who convinced Sessions to take the plunge and endorse Trump’s candidacy.
According to reporter Joshua Green’s new book Devil’s Bargain, Sessions was initially reluctant to endorse Trump because he feared the president could not win — and that it would ruin his career in the Senate.
“Trump is a great advocate for our ideas,” Sessions explained to Bannon back in February 2016. “But can he win?”
“100%,” Bannon replied. “If he can stick to your message and personify this stuff, there’s not a doubt in my mind.”
Bannon then told Sessions that it was a critical time for him to publicly endorse Trump, as it would give him much needed credibility from a figure conservative voters trusted on the issues.
“It’s do or die,” Bannon told him.
Sessions then agreed to make the endorsement — but pointedly said that if Trump couldn’t win the presidency, “it’s all over for me.”
Trump won the election, but Sessions’ position as attorney general seems in jeopardy thanks to the president’s daily attacks on his work as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. In fact, Trump on Tuesday dismissed Sessions’ 2016 endorsement by telling the Wall Street Journal that Sessions was really only attracted to the large crowds Trump was drawing at his rallies.