Of all the juicy allegations included in veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book about the Trump administration, perhaps none has been quite so scandalous (and extremely believable) as the claim that the President of the United States called his hand-picked Attorney General Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb Southerner.”
While Sessions—whose folksy Alabama drawl belies a penchant for deep-seated bigotry—has yet to respond to Woodward’s allegation directly, his fellow Southern Republicans have taken up his cause, coming together in one unified voice to respectfully ask President Trump to please try being just a smidge nicer.
In a series of statements collected by the Washington Post, Sessions’ Republican colleagues lashed out at Trump with the full force of a wiffle ball bat. Because, goodness gracious, this slight simply will not stand.
There’s fellow Alabaman Senator Richard Shelby:
I think Sessions is a very smart man and a man of integrity. I would disagree with the president on that.
Take that, you Yankee scum!
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe offered a particularly pointed rebuttal of Trump’s alleged insult, calling Sessions a “smart Southerner” and adding:
I’m a Southerner, too. I think it’s not at all appropriate. It’s totally inappropriate.
Just absolutely brutal stuff.
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis pushed back against Trump as well:
As a Southerner, I have to say, Jeff Sessions . . . is bright, studied in the law and well-respected universally by the conference here, I think that speaks for itself. He is bright.
Hear that, Trump?
Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, who has at various times clashed with Trump, joined the maelstrom of gentle protestations:
I think we all know it’s likely he is going to terminate him after the midterms. In the interim I think it would be good if he stopped raving about Sessions. It’s unbecoming. Either do something or don’t, but these comments just continue to degrade our nation.
Hard to see Trump recovering from that.
But of all Sessions’ defenders, it was Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson’s that really did the heaviest lifting.
I’m a Southerner, people can judge my intellect, my IQ, by my product and what I produce rather than what somebody else says.
We’re a pretty smart bunch. We lost the Civil War, but I think we’re winning the economic war since then . . . I’m not gonna get into name calling because I don’t think you should be allowed to call names — including the president.
[Teens around the cafeteria table collectively go “daaaaaaaaaamn!”]
Trump, meanwhile, denied on Twitter that he’d said mean things to Sessions in the first place.
Despite Trump’s half-hearted protestation that he’s “never used those terms” before, there are in fact multiple instances of him calling people “retarded” on tape during interviews with Howard Stern.