U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump go way back.
How, exactly? The United Nations of course, writes Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post.
As Viebeck explains, a $1.2 billion proposed renovation of the U.N.’s New York City headquarters brought the two men together in opposition.
Trump, whose Trump World Tower is across the street from the building, sharply criticized the move saying the organization was “a mess,” and that the 10-figures project was “unnecessary.”
Sessions — no fan of the U.N. either — heard about Trump’s views and looked him up:
[T]he Alabama Republican and former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) invited him to come to Washington to talk about building renovation and air his criticism of the U.N. project at a Senate subcommittee hearing.
The result was the best congressional testimony Sessions says he had ever heard. Even now, as Trump’s sole Senate endorser and the heart of his presence in Washington, Sessions loves telling the story. That’s partly because he likes to do his Trump impression.
“Y’all are gettin’ taken to the cleaners!” Sessions said while mimicking Trump in a recent interview, his accent drifting somewhere between Queens and the Alabama Gulf Coast. “There is no way it should cost that much! … If you give it to me, I’ll save you a billion dollars!”
The relationship persists, writes Viebeck, and culminated in Sessions’ endorsement of Trump despite Texas Sen. Ted Cruz‘s aggressive wooing of Sessions. Their rapport has also come to have a personal basis, political affinities aside:
Eleven years have passed since that hearing, and sitting in his office on Capitol Hill, Sessions can’t suppress his natural affection for Trump. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the ultra-conservative southerner has become Trump’s main man in Washington as the leading presidential campaign careens toward the Republican convention.
“I think he can win, and I believe he will,” Sessions said. “He will need to continue to flesh out the details of his policies. But his instinctive response to Americans’ current situation has been pretty darn good.”
Sessions described why he thinks Trump appeals to a large swath of voters that are seemingly his opposite — neither rich nor well-educated — and why his ostentatious lifestyle and private jet don’t put off supporters.
“I do think it’s one of the charms he has. It’s more of a blue-collar attitude, but he is so proud of that plane!” Sessions said. “He doesn’t try to be cool, like, ‘I’m a rich person.’ He says, ‘Let me show you this, let me show you that!’ He takes you around and he wants to show you his towers.”
Could Sessions even be a VP pick for Trump, who has said he wants a consummate insider to help balance his outsider, populist-driven style? Don’t count it out, writes Viebeck:
A Trump-Sessions ticket would permanently link the political odd couple, with their collision of North and South, brash and mild, business and politics. But the two are already joined by their controversial drive to pull the GOP — and through it, the country — toward nativism on immigration, trade and foreign policy.
“Sessions and Trump are united in the conviction that public policy in the United States should be tailored toward the interests of American citizens,” said Stephen Miller, a longtime Sessions aide who departed for Trump’s campaign in January. “That should be a non-controversial thought, but it is not in our politics today.”