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‘A new sheriff in town’: As Trump rages about Justice Dept., Sessions praises the president in immigration speech


— Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose Justice Department has come under intense criticism from President Trump and some congressional Republicans in recent days, repeatedly praised Trump in a speech to law enforcement officials Wednesday about immigration enforcement.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition and the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, Sessions cited his boss by name several times and claimed that the president had ushered in “a new era of support for law enforcement.”

“You might even say we’ve got a new sheriff in town,” Sessions said.

Sessions credited “just the force” of Trump’s election with producing an immediate drop in illegal border crossings, while also suggesting that a more recent increase in such crossings could be because the U.S. has prospered economically under Trump. The Department of Homeland Security recently reported a 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 compared to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018.

“We believe the increase in illegal crossings could be due to the Trump economy,” Sessions said. “Things are doing well, economically, and people could be coming for that reason.”

The speech comes at a precarious time for Sessions, as his job — and the jobs of top leaders in the department — have seemed increasingly imperiled after the FBI raid on the office home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer.

Trump has raged about the raid, calling it “unthinkable” and saying the investigation of whether his campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election is “an attack on what we all stand for.” He also has renewed his complaints about Sessions’s recusal from the probe — a subject which has long irked him and nearly led to Sessions’s ouster in the past.

Sessions has been implementing many of Trump’s most controversial policy goals, especially on immigration. He’s tried to crack down on so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions with policies that benefit those in the country illegally, even suing the state of California over its sanctuary laws. He has implemented a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry cases on the southwest border, and pressed U.S. immigration judges — who are part of the Justice Department — to process cases faster by establishing a quota system.

Some state and local governments say Sessions is stepping in the way of their ability to fight crime in communities they understand best, and advocates allege that he is driven by overly nationalistic ideals.

At Sessions’s speech Wednesday, a few dozen protesters gathered outside, and some tried to disrupt the presentation — making their way into the hall just outside the ballroom and chanting “No justice, no peace.”

Sessions speech touched on many themes that are familiar to those who watch him closely. He claimed that those who come to the country illegally bring in dangerous drugs and other crime — though the evidence to support that theory is debatable, and some research suggests crime decreases in areas where immigrants settle, even those who come in illegally.

He suggested that asylum seekers could to go “some other place” in the countries from which they are fleeing, rather that come to the U.S., and criticized local policies that hinder the deportation of people charged with crimes as “insane.” He pointed to what he sees as problems with current U.S. immigration laws.

“This is not acceptable, it cannot continue. No one can defend the way the system is working today,” Sessions said.

Much of what Sessions says would likely appeal to Trump — though Sessions has harbored the views personally for years. In the past, though, similar comments and initiatives have done little to put the attorney general back in the good graces of the president, who seems consumed by the Russia investigation and what he sees as Sessions’s failure to stay in control of it. Sessions also at one point misspoke and referred to Trump’s executive orders as coming from President Obama.

In recent days, Trump has taken particular aim at Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who was appointed to lead that investigation, and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who named Mueller to his post and continues to supervise his work. On Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter that Mueller was the “most conflicted of all,” adding quickly “except Rosenstein.” Aides have said he has also privately complained about Rosenstein in the wake of the Cohen raids, saying he wished Rosenstein was not in the Justice Department’s No. 2 job.

Almost simultaneously, some Republican congressmen have turned up the heat in their feud with the Justice Department over its production of documents on sensitive investigations, including the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Tuesday broached the idea of impeaching FBI Director Christopher A. Wray over the matter in an appearance on Fox News. He and other Republicans, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) have complained that the Justice Department is turning over materials too slowly, and with too many redactions. The Justice Department recently assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to oversee the response to Goodlatte’s request, and the FBI doubled the number of staffers, from 27 to 54, it had working on it.

Sessions did not address any of those matters directly in the speech Wednesday.

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(Hayne Palmour IV/AP), graphic_type=null, photo_path=/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/04/11/National-Security/Images/Sessions-Border_26525-1f475-1003.jpg?uuid=xZkaBD21EeiNU-ug7SNxzA}, tracking={ugc={default_sort=, comments_source=washpost.com, moderation_required=false, allow_comments=true, storytools_id=, is_ugc_gallery=false, display_comments=true, allow_photos=false, default_tab=, max_items_to_display_top=3, allow_videos=false, storytools_name=, stream_id=, max_items_to_display=15, comments_period=14, storytools=none}, in_url_headline=a-new-sheriff-in-town-as-trump-rages-about-justice-dept-sessions-praises-the-president-in-immigration-speech, content_category=National-Security, show_comments=true, section={subsection=national-security, section=world}, show_ads=true, authors=Robert Moore; Matt Zapotosky}, commentConfig={includereport=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, source=washpost.com, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includereply=true, includesorts=true, includevoteofftopic=false, moderationrequired=false, includeverifiedcommenters=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, comments_period=14, commentmaxlength=2000, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, allow_comments=true, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, display_ugc_photos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=false, maxitemstop=3, storytools=none, maxitems=5, includepermalink=false, includepause=true}, short_url=https://wapo.st/2qpDWSQ, path=https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-new-sheriff-in-town-as-trump-rages-about-justice-dept-sessions-praises-the-president-in-immigration-speech/2018/04/11/e176114c-3db4-11e8-8d53-eba0ed2371cc_story.html, display_summary={date=1523482974, blurb=Sessions praised not just Trump’s policy on immigration, but for economic gains that he said have had the unintended side effect of increasing illegal border crossings., headline=‘A new sheriff in town’: As Trump rages about Justice Dept., Sessions praises the president in immigration speech}, editors_picks=null, html=<article class=”paywall” itemprop=”articleBody”> <p> <span class=”dateline”>LAS CRUCES, N.M.</span> — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose Justice Department has come under intense criticism from President Trump and some congressional Republicans in recent days, repeatedly praised Trump in a speech to law enforcement officials Wednesday about immigration enforcement. </p> <p>Speaking at the annual meeting of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition and the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, Sessions cited his boss by name several times and claimed that the president had ushered in “a new era of support for law enforcement.”</p> <p>“You might even say we’ve got a new sheriff in town,” Sessions said.</p> <p>Sessions credited “just the force” of Trump’s election with producing an immediate drop in illegal border crossings, while also suggesting that a more recent increase in such crossings could be because the U.S. has prospered economically under Trump. The Department of Homeland Security <a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/homeland-security-says-surge-in-illegal-border-crossings-is-a-crisis-warrants-military-deployment/2018/04/05/de4a496c-3903-11e8-b57c-9445cc4dfa5e_story.html?utm_term=.bf3a1bdf743d” shape=”rect” title=”www.washingtonpost.com”>recently reported</a> a 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 compared to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018. </p> <p>“We believe the increase in illegal crossings could be due to the Trump economy,” Sessions said. “Things are doing well, economically, and people could be coming for that reason.” </p><div></div> <p>The speech comes at a precarious time for Sessions, as his job — and the jobs of top leaders in the department — have seemed increasingly imperiled after the <a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fbi-seizes-records-related-to-stormy-daniels-in-raid-of-trump-attorney-michael-cohens-office/2018/04/09/e3e43cf4-3c30-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html?utm_term=.43d93950c5e2″ shape=”rect” title=”www.washingtonpost.com”>FBI raid on the office home and hotel room of Michael Cohen</a>, Trump’s personal lawyer. </p> <p channel=”wp.com” class=”interstitial-link”> <i>[<a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-probe-into-trumps-lawyer-seeks-records-about-two-women-who-alleged-affairs-with-the-president/2018/04/10/624104a2-3cda-11e8-a7d1-e4efec6389f0_story.html?utm_term=.ecbeda3007bc” shape=”rect” title=”www.washingtonpost.com”>Federal probe into Trump’s lawyer seeks records about two women who alleged affairs with the president</a>]</i> </p> <p>Trump has raged about the raid, calling it “unthinkable” and saying the investigation of whether his campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election is “an attack on what we all stand for.” He also has renewed his complaints about Sessions’s recusal from the probe — a subject which has long irked him and nearly led to Sessions’s ouster in the past. </p> <p>Sessions has been implementing many of Trump’s most controversial policy goals, especially on immigration. He’s tried to crack down on so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions with policies that benefit those in the country illegally, even suing the state of California over its sanctuary laws. He has implemented a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry cases on the southwest border, and pressed U.S. immigration judges — who are part of the Justice Department — to process cases faster by establishing a quota system. </p> <p>Some state and local governments say Sessions is stepping in the way of their ability to fight crime in communities they understand best, and advocates allege that he is driven by overly nationalistic ideals. </p> <p>At Sessions’s speech Wednesday, a few dozen protesters gathered outside, and some tried to disrupt the presentation — making their way into the hall just outside the ballroom and chanting “No justice, no peace.” </p> <p>Sessions speech touched on many themes that are familiar to those who watch him closely. He claimed that those who come to the country illegally bring in dangerous drugs and other crime — though the evidence to support that theory is debatable, and some research suggests crime decreases in areas where immigrants settle, even those who come in illegally. </p><div></div> <p>He suggested that asylum seekers could to go “some other place” in the countries from which they are fleeing, rather that come to the U.S., and criticized local policies that hinder the deportation of people charged with crimes as “insane.” He pointed to what he sees as problems with current U.S. immigration laws. </p> <p>“This is not acceptable, it cannot continue. No one can defend the way the system is working today,” Sessions said. </p> <p>Much of what Sessions says would likely appeal to Trump — though Sessions has harbored the views personally for years. In the past, though, similar comments and initiatives have done little to put the attorney general back in the good graces of the president, who seems consumed by the Russia investigation and what he sees as Sessions’s failure to stay in control of it.<b> </b>Sessions also at one point misspoke and referred to Trump’s executive orders as coming from President Obama. </p> <p>In recent days, Trump has taken particular aim at Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who was appointed to lead that investigation, and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who named Mueller to his post and continues to supervise his work. On Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter that Mueller was the “most conflicted of all,” adding quickly “except Rosenstein.” Aides have said he has also privately complained about Rosenstein in the wake of the Cohen raids, saying he wished Rosenstein was not in the Justice Department’s No. 2 job. </p> <p>Almost simultaneously, some Republican congressmen have turned up the heat in their feud with the Justice Department over its production of documents on sensitive investigations, including the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. </p> <p>House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Tuesday <a href=”https://twitter.com/FoxNews/status/983904259392589824″ shape=”rect” title=”twitter.com”>broached the idea of impeaching FBI Director Christopher A. Wray</a> over the matter in an appearance on Fox News. He and other Republicans, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) have complained that the Justice Department is turning over materials too slowly, and with too many redactions. The Justice Department recently assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to oversee the response to Goodlatte’s request, and the FBI doubled the number of staffers, from 27 to 54, it had working on it.</p> <p>Sessions did not address any of those matters directly in the speech Wednesday. </p> </article>, last_modified=1523482974, slug=sessions0412, site_service_lookup=/world/national-security, created_date_num=1523470772, thumbnail={aspect_ratio=1.5390524967989756, featured={aspect_ratio=1.5390524967989756, credit_line=Hayne Palmour IV / AP, credit_organization=AP, raw_caption=FILE – In this Friday, April 21, 2017, file photo, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands near a secondary border fence during a news conference at the U.S.-Mexican border next to the Brown Field Border Patrol Station in San Diego. Sessions is scheduled to speak about immigration to a meeting of sheriffs, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Las Cruces, N.M. 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Sessions was scheduled to speak about immigration to a meeting of sheriffs Las Cruces, N.M. (Hayne Palmour IV/AP)</span> </div>, status={color=3c9dff, name=In Progress, cms=Methode, raw=WPStories/Create, slug=in-progress}, last_modified_num=1523482974, site_node=/world/national-security, title=‘A new sheriff in town’: As Trump rages about Justice Dept., Sessions praises the president in immigration speech, story_type=null, display_date_num=1523482974, site_service_id=deprecated, object_hash=1523482983, secondary_slot=null, sub_type=null, creator_by_item_role={By=[{name=Robert Moore, in_byline=true, byline=Robert Moore, item_role=By}, {lastName=Zapotosky, role=Reporter, education=[{name=Ohio University, bachelor’s degree in journalism}], bio=Matt Zapotosky covers the Justice Department for The Washington Post’s national security team. 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He has previously worked covering the federal courthouse in Alexandria and local law enforcement in Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland., facebook=http://www.facebook.com/matt.zapotosky, firstName=Matt, podcasts=[], books=[], awards=[], desk=Local, name=Matt Zapotosky, location=Washington, D.C., _id=zapotoskymd, in_byline=true, item_role=By}], publishing_status={name=Live, slug=live}, decoded_headline=‘A new sheriff in town’: As Trump rages about Justice Dept., Sessions praises the president in immigration speech, web_type=article_story, content_origin=methode, loid=null, uri=/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/04/11/National-Security/Stories/sessions0412.xml, url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-new-sheriff-in-town-as-trump-rages-about-justice-dept-sessions-praises-the-president-in-immigration-speech/2018/04/11/e176114c-3db4-11e8-8d53-eba0ed2371cc_story.html, primary_slot_html=<div class=”inline-content inline-photo inline-photo-normal”> <a name=”945b40652dacb36e966a3346d379b30a68b34711″></a> <img class=”unprocessed placeholder” src=”https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_60w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/04/11/National-Security/Images/Sessions-Border_26525-1f475-1003.jpg?uuid=xZkaBD21EeiNU-ug7SNxzA” data-hi-res-src=”https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/04/11/National-Security/Images/Sessions-Border_26525-1f475-1003.jpg?uuid=xZkaBD21EeiNU-ug7SNxzA” data-low-res-src=”https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_480w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/04/11/National-Security/Images/Sessions-Border_26525-1f475-1003.jpg?uuid=xZkaBD21EeiNU-ug7SNxzA” data-raw-src=”https://img.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/04/11/National-Security/Images/Sessions-Border_26525-1f475-1003.jpg?uuid=xZkaBD21EeiNU-ug7SNxzA” ><br/> <span class=”pb-caption”>Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands near a secondary border fence during a news conference at the U.S.-Mexican border next to the Brown Field Border Patrol Station in San Diego in April 2017. Sessions was scheduled to speak about immigration to a meeting of sheriffs Las Cruces, N.M. (Hayne Palmour IV/AP)</span> </div>, secondary_slot_as_full_width_html=, created_date=1523470772, publication_end=null, published_date=1523482974, commercial_node=/world/national-security, kicker={name=National Security, url=/world/national-security}}



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