United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recently slammed by President Donald Trump in a New York Times interview, has been at odds with Philadelphia since his appointment earlier this year, extolling policies and stances that often conflict with those of local leaders.
Sessions has talked about punishing sanctuary cities. He’s a major opponent of decriminalizing marijuana. He likes mandatory minimum sentences.
And tomorrow he’ll be here in Philly, giving a speech.
Sessions will speak at 11 a.m. at the U.S. Attorney’s Office near Sixth and Chestnut streets in front of a crowd of law enforcement officials and media. He’s supposed to talk about violent crime and sanctuary cities — both major issues in Philadelphia. A protest is planned outside by a group called Refuse Fascism Philly.
Sessions mostly doesn’t see eye to eye with Philly officials on sanctuary cities or violent crime. This year he has released several memos and directives to federal prosecutors regarding violent crime. The gist of them is that he wants federal law enforcement officials to work with local and state departments to target violent offenders, and charge them with the most serious crimes and strictest sentences possible.
In March, Sessions called for all sanctuary cities to rescind their policies or risk losing funding from the Department of Justice, an action that would cost Philly several million dollars. That threat, also given by the Obama administration, has so far turned out to be empty. When Sessions made his remarks, the Mayor’s Office responded by calling them “a direct attack on public safety.”
Mayor Jim Kenney again voiced support for Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policy in a statement today.
“The very same year that I reinstated Philadelphia’s so-called sanctuary policy, the city experienced its lowest rate of crime in 40 years,” he said. “The Trump administration is threatening to reverse that progress….Not only do Philadelphia’s policies keep us safer, but they also uphold our country’s fundamental values in the city where they born.”
But Sessions’ footing isn’t seen as the most solid in Washington. In a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times published this morning, Trump said he wouldn’t have hired Sessions had he known the AG would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions said he would continue to work as AG for “as long as that is appropriate.”