Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) broke from many of his Republican colleagues on Tuesday to offer words of support for long-suffering Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“I have total confidence in the attorney general. He ought to stay exactly where he is,” McConnell told a cluster of reporters on Capitol Hill.
The comment comes amid a rising chorus of criticism for the beleaguered attorney general, most notably from President Trump. Trump last week unleashed a fresh wave of attacks on Sessions for allowing special counsel Robert Mueller to be appointed and for refusing to turn the Justice Department’s investigative powers against Trump’s Democratic opponents.
Prominent Republican senators have given Trump cover to replace Sessions after the November midterm elections. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called their relationship “beyond repair,” while Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said his committee could make time for hearings on nominees to replace Sessions.
The criticism has been so fierce that Sessions felt compelled to release a statement insisting that he is in “control” of the Justice Department and reiterating that the department should not be used as an instrument of partisan warfare.