Donald Trump’s Assault on Jeff Sessions

Mr. Sessions’s recusal was necessary, of course, because of his role as one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and staunchest supporters, and his own undisclosed contacts with Russian officials — facts that make it impossible for him to maintain the neutrality and independence essential to any credible inquiry. Mr. Trump, who appears to understand little and care even less about the importance of these limitations, thinks Mr. Sessions’s job is to protect him by impeding those investigations. In other words, he expects the attorney general to obstruct justice on his behalf.

Mr. Trump is startlingly blunt about this, calling Mr. Sessions’s recusal “unfair to the president,” as though he is owed a personal loyalty that supersedes the rule of law. The irony is that Mr. Sessions has been the most loyal of Mr. Trump’s supporters, arguably more invested in implementing the Trump agenda than the president himself.

This page is no fan of Mr. Sessions, whose dark vision of America includes a hard-line stance on illegal immigration, a return to the war on drugs and other discredited tough-on-crime policies, and a government newly empowered to seize cash and other property from ordinary citizens without due process. But just as Mr. Sessions was right to recuse himself, he is right to stand his ground now, effectively daring Mr. Trump to fire him.

This demeaning cat-and-mouse game may be shocking to some of the president’s most blinkered advocates, but it only illustrates what any cleareyed observer has been able to see all along, which is that Mr. Trump cares more about protecting himself, his business and his family than anything else. To him, the rule of law, the principle on which America was built, is at best an abstraction. More often it is an obstacle to be evaded.

For that reason, Mr. Trump may in the end follow the advice of the conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who urged him to

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