HOUSTON - Jeff Sessions - former U.S. Senator, as well as former U.S. Attorney General under President Donald Trump - had much to say supporting Trump’s efforts currently underway in the Middle East, as well as discussed issues of more state and regional interest during a lunch meeting Wednesday, Jan. 8.
The meeting - held with local officials, as well as the general public at Chef Troy's Talk of the Town Restaurant in Houston - was an informal discussion of topics of world, state and local interest.
Sessions set the stage for discussion by praising Trump’s current policies and procedures regarding airstrikes that killed Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani, but also made special mention of Trump’s border wall amidst immigration laws.
When asked specifically what Sessions thought of Trump’s actions against terrorism in Iran, Sessions responded, “I think it’s going excellently. This is the way Donald Trump thinks.
“He does not want a war in the Middle East, but they are not going to attack. They are not going to storm our embassy, not while he’s president,” Sessions pointed out.
Therefore, Sessions further explained, Trump targeted the Iranian leader in a single, surgical attack.
Although this attack stirred the Iranian people, moving them in retaliatory measure to attack a military base where American personnel were stationed in Iran, the missiles fired reportedly caused no injuries to American soldiers. Rather, the airstrikes have been claimed by some as a scare tactic.
Sessions noted that this retaliatory measure appeared to actually be a, “very mild response.”
The Alabamian’s interview with Sessions took place shortly after Trump addressed the nation in defense of the attack against Soleimani in the fight against terrorism.
“I thought he made a brilliant speech,” said Sessions, who then began diagramming the speech from his viewpoint.
“What he said was we don’t want war, but we are offering up-front for you (Iran), to become a part of the league of good nations and leave the terrorism world,” Sessions noted.
“The whole world is watching, and now the President is going to expose the Iranians,” Sessions continued. “They either have to continue with what they are doing, which is terrorism, or start working to get out of that mode.”
Sessions believes this will draw support from the international community.
“Iran is the number one government sponsor of terrorism in the world,” said Sessions. Concerning the airstrike taking out Soleimani, Sessions noted the center of terrorism has now been removed.
“I just think the action was justified legally,” said Sessions, noting that Trump has been known to use aggressive action to show the world that the U.S. cannot be pushed or bullied.
The President had ordered the airstrike that took out Soleimani without the approval of Congress, a move in line with what presidents from both sides of the political spectrum have done for years. The Democrat-controlled House passed a resolution on Thursday, Jan. 9, limiting the President’s military actions against Iran without Congressional approval, a measure that is not expected to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.
“My thought is he got their attention,” Sessions said about Trump leading the attack in Iran. “They thought we (the U.S.) were weak and they could get away with it.
“They (Iran) have a different idea right this minute, and they know if they overreact....then we can hit them back harder,” Sessions pointed out.
Sessions should know how Trump operates and the strategy he uses.
An early supporter of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Sessions served as U.S. Attorney General beginning in 2017 in the Trump administration, after a 52-47 vote in the U.S. Senate, being sworn into office on Feb. 9, 2017.
During his tenure, Sessions stated under oath that he did not have contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, being unaware of any contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials. Sessions recused himself from any investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, as Democrat lawmakers called for his resignation.
Also during Session’s tenure as U.S. AG, he overturned a memo that had sought to curb mass incarnation by avoiding mandatory sentencing and ordered federal prosecutors to begin seeking the maximum criminal charges possible.
Session during his tenure was also known as a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, adopting a hard-line policy on sanctuary cities, noting that cities that failed to comply with federal immigration policy would lose federal funding. Trump had issued an executive order revoking the funding from the cities, but the action was challenged by San Francisco and forbidden by a federal judge.
Continuing his strong stance against immigration, Sessions voiced his support for Trump’s desire to build a border wall in efforts of stopping illegal immigration.
“The president made an honorable and morally correct policy, a decision in the campaign, and it was to end the illegality,” Sessions said. “We are not going to end immigration, but we are going to end illegal immigration.”
Sessions noted Trump’s stance on the border wall helped him politically, earning him a majority of votes in the 2016 presidential election.
“The Democrats and some of the weak Republicans cannot help him get it done,” said Sessions. “They have blocked him at every angle.
“....Congress has got to step up. If not, the American people need to know where the blame lies,” Sessions pointed out.
On. Nov. 7, 2018, Sessions submitted his resignation at Trump’s request, following both public and private contention between the two over Sessions' recusal from the Russian probe case.
In November, 2019, Sessions announced he would be seeking his former seat in the U.S. Senate.
The Trump administration has also been rocked with controversy concerning an impeachment probe into allegations that Trump obstructed Congress.
“The impeachment is nowhere close to being justified,” Sessions stated. “They haven’t even charged a crime. Obstruction of Congress is a ridiculous charge. Congress obstructs the president every day. It’s a constant battle between the executive, legislative and even judicial branches over power.
Officials attending the lunch meeting expressed concerns such as the need for roads and other infrastructure, some of which could receive assistance from the federal level, they said.
“That’s something every county needs, but we especially need it,” noted Winston County Circuit Clerk J.D. Snoddy.
“We have a disadvantage in our county because a lot of our county is covered by national forest, so we need the federal government to come in and subsidize us for the property taken up by the national forest,” Snoddy pointed out.
Tourism needs to be promoted more in Winston County due to such gems as Smith Lake and the Bankhead National Forest, Snoddy added.
“Those are two grand opportunities,” Snoddy pointed out.
State Representative Tim Wadsworth noted he saw such major needs as an ambulance service on the county’s east side.
Wadsworth spoke about Capstone Clinics opening in both Arley and Double Springs.
“We’ve got two new medical centers that opened up,” Wadsworth stated. “The health departments are in the process of consolidating, a process that is going to hurt areas that don’t charge fees, such as Winston County. Capstone is going to be leasing the left side of the health department which will stabilize that facility there (in Double Springs),” Wadsworth continued.
Addison resident Shirley Sudduth, who attended the luncheon, noted she saw four-lane roads and high-speed internet as the big biggest needs in the county.
“We don’t have four-lane roads and high-speed internet to offer industries that would come here,” said Sudduth. “You can go to Montgomery and look on the books. There is a lot of industry that is looking for a place to move to because of living conditions, high taxes and the availability of workers.
“We can’t get any of them because we don’t have high-speed internet and four-lane roads,” Sudduth added. “We are being crippled.
“We need to get with our representatives and senators, not only local, but the U.S. senators and representatives that could help us,” Sudduth pointed out.
“I know most of the help comes from Montgomery, but there is other help available too, from the U.S. senators and representatives to help get what we need so we could get more industry in here,” she continued.
Sessions noted he was proud to visit more rural areas of the state. “I grew up in a rural area that’s farther off the interstate than here,” he said.
“I am really aware that we need to have a national policy...that provides more opportunities for business and development to occur outside the big cities,” Sessions pointed out.
Sessions cited as an example the FBI building being located in Huntsville that could have been located in Washington, D.C.
“The FBI is part of the Department of Justice,” said Sessions, who was a member of the Senate Judicial Committee before becoming attorney general.
“Why should we put all those people in (Washington) D.C. with the traffic and the high cost of living?” Sessions continued. “Everything is cheaper here.”
Concerning abandoned transportation issues in rural counties such as Winston, Sessions recalled that he helped complete Interstate 22 -- the major highway project from Memphis to Birmingham--a project that was at first not going to be classified as an interstate, he said.
Concerning other roadway projects hat have either never been done or started by never completed--Sessions noted Trump in the past has talked about his infrastructure bill that would provide new money that would possibly be available for such projects.
“That’s the one opportunity that I see to have some new money from Washington,” Sessions said.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.