Trump’s Attacks on Sessions Are Angering His Base in Deep-Red Alabama

The poor, black and Democratic neighborhoods of Alabama’s North Birmingham didn’t vote for President Donald Trump, who has spent the past two weeks disparaging and Twitter-torturing Jeff Sessions, the attorney general and former U.S. Senator from their state.

They’ve been enjoying the spectacle, though, as Trump strikes at the heart of his Southern support. Known for his strong constituent services, Sessions’s popularity is high among the white Alabamians who handed the state to Trump in November.

“You watch. People are going to start calling Trump a northerner, a New Yorker, a Yankee,” said Jimmy Smith, 84, a five-decade North Birmingham resident. “Trump is going to lose the support of his Southern people if he keeps it up. He crossed a line with Sessions.”

And Alabama is reacting, if not yet abandoning Trump as decisively as Smith predicts.

“People have been calling into the party offices and they are upset,” said Sallie Bryant, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Republican Party, which includes Birmingham. “It’s the average Joe Q Public calling in. Pretty much everybody starts off saying ‘I’m a Trump supporter,” but they are all angry, very, very upset. They want us to call our delegation and tell them they need to tell Trump to quit.”

On July 19, Trump began an extraordinary effort to undercut Sessions, who left a 20-year U.S. Senate seat to become Trump’s attorney general, after serving as his first high-profile campaign backer. In tweets, interviews and press statements, Trump called his attorney general weak, beleaguered and a disappointment, in an apparent attempt to encourage Sessions to resign or to lay the groundwork for his firing. The reason is Session’s March recusal from an intensifying investigation into whether the Trump campaign ties had with Russia. Sessions says he has no plans to resign.

Aura of Integrity

Sessions has spent a career espousing the kinds of policies Trump based his…

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