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7 Things We Learned From Time’s Creepy Jeff Sessions Cover Story

President Trump’s day probably won’t be brightened by the issue of Time magazine that just dropped. On the cover: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, captured in all his ghoulish glory by photographer Philip Montgomery. The tagline: “Nobody’s Above the Law,” a direct quote from the AG himself.

This didn’t end well. (TIME, Feb. ’17)

Two things we know:

  1. Few things delight Trump more than seeing himself on the cover of Time, which he considers one of the highest honors available to any human living or dead.
  2. Few things irritate him more than seeing one of his employees receive the same honor. He’s the boss, they are not, and spotlight-stealing is a fireable offense. See under: Bannon, Stephen K.

Sessions is arguably the single most powerful person in the cannabis world. His decisions have the power to affect more than 149,000 legal cannabis jobs and millions of American lives.

So, in the interest of saving you, the follower of all news Sessions-ish, time and aggravation, we read the entire TIME cover story and came up with these salient takeaways.

1. Steve Bannon wanted Sessions to run for President in 2013

Great googly moogly! Perish the thought. “Bannon was inspired by Sessions’ insistence that restricting immigration and trade could be a political winner.” Fortunately for the cannabis world, Sessions declined to pursue a candidacy.

2. Trump has never forgiven him for allowing the appointment of Robert Mueller.

“In public and private,” Time national political correspodent Molly Ball writes, “the President has denigrated the proud former Senator, calling him an ‘idiot,’ ‘beleaguered’ and ‘disgraceful.’” Which is funny, because Ball fails to mention Trump’s characterization of Sessions as Mr. Magoo, a far more vibrant and sticky designation.

3. His fellow cabinet member Scott Pruitt has been angling to replace him.

With jolly colleagues like this, who needs frenemies? This must rankle Sessions, who clearly loves serving as attorney general, and who must know Pruitt sees the AG position as simply a stepping stone to his ultimate goal: A run at the presidency in 2024.

4. Even his toughest critics don’t want him fired because of Mueller.

“The Justice Department is supposed to be protecting people, keeping people safe and affirming our basic rights,” says Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act. “But he has rolled back the Justice Department’s efforts to do that.” Even so, Booker says, it wouldn’t be right for Trump to fire him over the Russia investigation. “Jeff Sessions is not acting in defense of the rights of Americans. He should not be in that job. But I do not think he should be fired for the reasons Donald Trump would fire him.”

5. He views drug treatment as not only ineffective, but dangerous.

After listening to a room full of people whose loved ones had been killed by drug overdoses, Sessions told them that “we need treatment, but it is true that a lot of people it doesn’t work for.” Emphasizing drug treatment, Sessions says, sends the wrong signal. What’s causing all the problem, he believes, is a general lackadaisical attitude. “The extraordinary surge in addiction and drug death is a product of a popular misunderstanding of the dangers of drugs,” he says. “Because all too often, all we get in the media is how anybody who’s against drugs is goofy, and we just ought to chill out.”

Even as he said this, Sessions’ own Justice Department was prosecuting the founder of Insys, maker of the deadly drug fentanyl, for racketeering. The DOJ has charged John Kapoor with “leading a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain.” The DOJ also continues to investigate the role that OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma has played in America’s opioid overdose epidemic.

6. Sessions thinks putting more people in prison is the only thing that works.

America’s mass incarceration crisis doesn’t need reform, Sessions believes; it needs more prisoners and more prisons. “This whole mentality that there’s another solution other than incarceration,” he says, “all I will say to you is, people today don’t know that every one of these [alternatives to mass incarceration] has been tried over the last 40 years.” Worth noting: The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We also have one of the highest opioid use rates.

7. His “above the law” quote wasn’t a shot at Trump, but…

 …the President may consider it so. Ball ends her profile with fresh quote, which would be innocuous in just about any other context: “Congress passes a law, judges follow the law, and nobody’s above the law, including the judges, and including the President.” Given the ever-tightening Mueller investigation, however, it’s easy to imagine Trump taking that “including the President” phrase as a knife in the back.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image
Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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