On Wednesday, US attorney-general Jeff Sessions vehemently denied that he colluded with an alleged Russian bid to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump's favour.
"I have never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States," Sessions told a closely-watched hearing of the Senate intelligence committee.
This must have been music to the beleaguered US president's ears.
Just last week, former FBI director James Comey in "explosive" testimony, called Trump a "liar" repeatedly and stated that he was fired because of his involvement in the Russia probe. He also stated that Trump asked for his "loyalty" at a dinner.
Even worse, Comey alleged that Trump asked his senior advisors to leave him and Comey alone at an Oval Office meeting. Comey said Trump told him he "hoped" he could see a way to let former NSA chief Michael Flynn off the hook.
Weeks later, Trump fired Comey, raising questions of obstruction of justice and even bringing up the dreaded word: Impeachment.
But Sessions publicly contradicted Comey's version of events, which has, at least temporarily, doused those flames. And surely pleased the boss.
But this was expected from Sessions, who has been unfailingly loyal to the president.
In fact, Sessions has been one of Trump's earliest and most ardent boosters since the time he declared his candidacy for leader of the free world.
According to a report in CNN, Sessions, who was known for his opposition to illegal immigration, was the first sitting Senator to endorse candidate Trump. Sessions declared that he was supporting Trump during a rally in a football stadium, just two days before the crucial Super Tuesday primary where a dozen other states were to vote.
"At this time in American history we need to make America great again," Sessions said, wearing one of Trump's famous red caps. "I am pleased to endorse Trump for President of the United States. A movement is afoot that must not fade away." Sessions then joined Trump's campaign team as an advisor.
According to The Washington Post, Sessions counselled Trump on almost every major policy proposal he made during the campaign, including immigration, chaired Trump's national security advisory committee and even offered advice on whom Trump could choose for vice-president. Sessions was even briefly in the running.
After Trump shocked the world and won the election on 8 November, the Trump transition team released this statement: “The president-elect has been unbelievably impressed with Senator Sessions and his phenomenal record as Alabama’s attorney-general and US attorney. It is no wonder the people of Alabama re-elected him without opposition.”
The mutual admiration society was in full swing: Until the Russia cloud enveloped Trump's White House.
Sessions was soon forced to recuse himself from the probe after it emerged that he did not report a meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.
That decision left Comey in charge of the FBI, whom Trump famously then fired because he had "Russia on his mind." Trump's actions backfired, causing the deputy attorney-general to appoint a special prosecutor to head up the Russia investigation.
However, Trump reportedly blamed Sessions for recusing himself, repeatedly telling aides he did not see the need for Sessions' recusal and that it had led to a special prosecutor being appointed. Sessions then reportedly offered to hand in his resignation before Trump's trip abroad.
The Washington Post reported that Sessions made the offer after weeks of tense private meetings with the disgruntled president and that the moment was brief. However, Trump refused the offer, although he made his displeasure clear to the attorney-general.
The New York Times reported that the White House would not confirm that the president still had full confidence in Sessions. “I have not had that discussion with him,” the press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
However, with his testimony before the Senate, Sessions may have earned his way back into Trump's good graces. Because above all, Trump prizes loyalty. At least that's what Comey claims.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jun 14, 2017 08:26 pm | Updated Date: Jun 14, 2017 08:26 pm