The real reason Jeff Sessions is refusing to resign

The only way Donald Trump could make it more clear that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign is if he egged his house. Trump trashed Sessions in an interview this week and said he regretted having appointed him. Then when Sessions didn’t resign, scandalous dirt conveniently leaked out about him to the media. Yet Sessions, for now at least, is still refusing to resign. And I think I know why.

There are two strong reasons for Jeff Sessions to want to hang onto his current job as long as he can. The first is a deeply personal one, while the second is a high stakes legal one. I suspect both reasons have prompted Sessions to swallow his pride and stick it out under a boss who wants him gone. The first reason is that Sessions is deeply committed to his own warped views on social matters. He’s a career back bencher politician who’s never been allowed to roam free until now. As Attorney General, he’s suddenly able to lock up minorities, screw the poor, even carry out his weirdly personal vendetta against marijuana users of all stripes – and his boss doesn’t really care about any of it one way or the other.

The longer Sessions can stick it out on the job, the more damage he gets to do to American society. As it is, it’ll take a decade to undo the hideously racist and un-American policies that Sessions has put in place over the past six months. This evil man thinks he’s carrying out God’s will by doing these evil things. So of course he doesn’t want to resign, now that he’s finally in position to destroy people’s lives for the first time in his own miserable life. But there’s also a more pragmatic reason he wants to tough it out for awhile longer.

Jeff Sessions has committed multiple felonies by lying under oath about his Russia meetings, and then lying under oath again. When he got caught, he recused himself in order to take the focus of the Trump-Russia scandal off himself. It vaguely worked as a temporary measure. But he’ll pay for those crimes eventually. And because he didn’t protect Trump, in the end Trump won’t protect him. So as things get exponentially worse for Trump, the job status of Sessions becomes a matter of leverage.

Sessions knows that his resignation is a bargaining chip. If he resigns now, he forfeits that chip for no reason. But if he hangs onto it, he can trade it away later for his own benefit. Maybe he’ll ask investigators for leniency in exchange for his resignation, just so they can get him off the board at the precise time they want him gone. Or maybe he’ll end up asking Trump for a pardon in exchange for his resignation. At this point no one wants Sessions on the job, and he knows it. But he won’t leave until he thinks the time is right for him, on both a personal and criminal level.

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