MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama senator seeking to reclaim his seat after serving as President Donald Trump’s attorney general, has written an open letter to Alabama voters explaining his recusal from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Sessions has gone on the offensive about the recusal, which drew Trump’s ire and has been a lingering obstacle as Sessions seeks the U.S. Senate seat, he held for two decades. Sessions said he was required by law to recuse because he was a potential subject and witness since he had participated in Trump’s 2016 campaign
“I have remained faithful to the President and his agenda. I have always stood up for him, and I never backed down, not even for one moment. My convictions are immovable, built on rock, not sand,” Sessions wrote in the letter released this week.
“As the world knows, the President disagreed with me on recusal, but I did what the law required me to do. I was a central figure in the campaign and was also a subject of and witness in the investigation and could obviously not legally be involved in investigating myself. If I had ignored and broken the law, the Democrats would have used that to severely damage the President,” Sessions said.
The former U.S. senator became Trump’s first attorney general, a position he was forced to resign when his recusal from the Russia inquiry prompted blistering public criticism from Trump.
Sessions faces former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville in the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner will face U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in November.
Sessions issued the letter after a new round of criticism from Trump in an interview last week on “Fox & Friends” in which he disparaged Sessions as weak and a disaster.
Trump has endorsed Tuberville in the race and Tuberville’s campaign has emphasized the president’s criticism of Sessions.
“It’s time we fire him once and for all! Help me send him a message today that we do not want a weak-kneed swamp rat representing Alabama,” Tuberville tweeted about Sessions.
Sessions called Tuberville an “opportunist’ who “doesn’t know the first thing about Alabama.”
Sessions, as he has in campaign stops, reminded voters he was the first senator to endorse Trump’s 2016 campaign.