US Attorney General Jeff Sessions headed to El Salvador today for meetings on law enforcement cooperation, traveling far from Washington after days of bearing humiliating online scorn from President Donald Trump. Sessions was to hold talks on the MS-13 gang active in El Salvador and parts of the US, as well as on “immigration, drugs, and human trafficking,” a statement from his department said. “This visit demonstrates the lengths to which the Trump Administration will go in the mission to eradicate this gang and anyone who threatens the safety of our communities,” the statement said.
Sessions, a hardline Republican who shares Trump’s tough anti-immigration stance, was an early backer of Trump, who appointed him to the post of attorney general. But he has recently fallen out of favor. This week, the US president tweeted that Sessions was “VERY weak” for not investigating his defeated rival Hillary Clinton for alleged “crimes.” He also expressed frustration at Sessions recusing himself from a ballooning investigation into suspected collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
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Observers said it appeared Trump was trying to force Sessions from office through public humiliation, rather than firing him outright, which could trigger political blowback and arguments he was obstructing justice. Sessions thus far has given no indication he intends to step down. In addition, Trump’s onslaught has unsettled some of his Republican supporters who also back Sessions for his hardline policies.