On Wednesday, senior officials in the Justice Department revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential campaign — then lied about it to Congress under oath.
"[We] need the Attorney General ... to resign," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a statement, joining 79 other members of Congress (and counting) calling for Sessions' resignation or recusal from investigations into the Trump camp's ties to Russia. "We need it now."
As attorney general, Sessions oversees the United States' vast law enforcement apparatus. Given his extensive experience navigating Washington's corridors of power and extreme views — he opposes voting protections for racial minorities and liberalizing drug laws, and has been dismissive of police misconduct — it's no stretch to say Sessions is the most dangerous member of President Donald Trump's cabinet. Were he indeed given the boot, it would be the most devastating blow yet to Trump's right-wing agenda, and a huge victory for civil rights advocates.
Where chief strategist and former Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon may be the most chilling ideologue in Trump's cabinet, he lacks Sessions' relationships in Congress and Capitol Hill know-how. In 2014, he was dubbed "amnesty's worst enemy" by the National Review because he's opposed almost every immigration bill that's come through the Senate that included a path to citizenship for undocumented people.
He's already exerted significant influence over the Trump administration. The Washington Post has described him as the "intellectual godfather" to many of Trump's early executive orders — including his most recent order banning members of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. He has served as a mentor both to Trump's senior policy advisor Stephen Miller and deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn.
With Sessions out of the Justice Department, Trump would lose one of his most lethal and most experienced strongmen, while black and brown Americans — who would likely be those most impacted by Sessions criminal justice policies — would lose a daunting enemy.
Progressives in Congress are right to push to get Sessions out as quickly as possible. His work over the next four years would be devastating if they fail. And this might be their best chance.