Friends, this week I have a favor to ask: I'm writing a story and I want to hear from you. Specifically, I want to talk about how you follow political news these days and how it makes you feel — whether the barrage of evening push notifications is giving you hives, whether you've given up on Twitter, whether you're obsessively following every twist and turn in this wild news cycle. If you're interested in rocketing to fame in the pages of your local newspaper you can get get in touch via my email at the top of this story.
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We're in the middle of a positively wild news cycle — Spicey, we hardly knew ye — fueled mostly by a series of increasingly feverish tweetstorms from President Trump. Much of the president's ire has focused on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions — beginning with Trump telling the Times last Wednesday he never would have hired the former senator from Alabama if he'd known he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
His boss has been tweeting almost constantly about him since then: calling him "beleaguered" and his positions "weak" and, perhaps most significantly, questioning why he hasn't investigated Hillary Clinton.
On Friday, with rumors swirling about his resignation, Sessions came to Philly, a sanctuary city whose mayor is a vocal critic of the Trump administration, to talk about the dangers of sanctuary cities. This went about as well as you would expect.
After Sessions said he believed local police want to help the feds enforce immigration law, but are hamstrung by their cities' sanctuary policies, Philly Police Commissioner Richard Ross told reporters he didn't think local police should be involved in immigration enforcement at all. A few hours later, the Post reported that, during the election, Sessions may have discussed campaign matters with the Russian ambassador, something he'd previously denied.
This isn't really about Jeff Sessions' terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. It's about the way President Trump talks about the Russian investigation, and about his staff, and about his own power — something he's defining, in real time, on Twitter, as he discusses his ability to pardon people and muses about investigating political rivals. It's about how this kind of rhetoric is something we're increasingly inured to.
Practically speaking, if Sessions resigns or Trump fires him, his replacement could temporarily skirt the confirmation process if Trump makes the appointment during a congressional recess. And my colleague Chris Mondics has a good breakdown of what to watch for in the event of a Sessions firing: political uproar, a boost for Trump's base and an effort to curtail or fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel heading the Russia investigation.