Jeff Sessions seen as likely Secretary of Defense

Jeff Sessions
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions

The rumor mill is still swirling over what role Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions will play in the Donald Trump administration, though he seems increasingly likely to be the next president’s pick for Secretary of Defense.

Sessions was the first sitting senator to back Trump’s campaign and has been one of the president elect’s most vocal defenders since endorsing him in February, a move that puts him near the top of the list for any cabinet position he desires.

The third-term Republican senator has not said whether he wants to run the Defense Department, though he has said he would be “pleased to consider” a position in Trump’s cabinet.

His background as Alabama’s attorney general could make him a contender for the top spot in the Department of Justice, and some say he may end up being Trump’s pick to head up the Department of Homeland Security, though insiders say the 69-year-old lawmaker is leaning toward Secretary of Defense.

Session’s has advocated limiting military spending in the past, putting him slightly at odds with Trump, whose campaign platform included an armed forces buildup that could cost taxpayers an extra $55 billion a year.

Still, Sessions is a trusted ally of Trump’s, and would likely get the nod over most other candidates for the position, namely former George W. Bush security adviser Stephen Hadley, former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent or retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Each of those candidates likely has their own drawbacks in Trump’s eyes: Talent’s late-filed endorsement of Trump was lukewarm at best, though it did praise his defense plans; Hadley’s position on the Iraq War is at odds with Trump’s; and Flynn would require a waiver from Congress to be eligible since he is not yet 7 years removed from military service.

Whether Sessions becomes Secretary of Defense or fills a different cabinet position, his exit from the Senate would stir up Alabama politics and require Gov. Robert Bentley to appoint a temporary Senator and set special election dates to find a permanent replacement.


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