Justice Department officials gather to honor Jeff Sessions

Justice Department officials gather to honor Jeff Sessions
CNN
Jeff Sessions 

Jeff Sessions returned to the Justice Department Thursday as top current and former officials across the agency gathered to honor former attorney general and present him with a ceremonial cabinet chair gifted from employees.

Sessions walked out on stage to a standing ovation in a packed room, joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the current attorney general, William Barr. The scene was reminiscent of the last time the former Alabama senator received a warm send off just four months ago, on the day he was ousted from the job by President Donald Trump.

“Unexpected developments always arise but Jeff Sessions stayed true to his values,” said Rosenstein, who ticked through a list of Sessions’ priorities and accomplishments at the department. “He never forgot who he was and where he came from.”

And while the event was a celebration of Sessions’ tenure, it came at particularly high stakes moment for the department, as Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to deliver his highly anticipated confidential report on the Russia investigation to Barr any day.

“I’m a bit of an interloper at this event,” Barr joked, going on to thank Sessions for his leadership. “I salute you Jeff, and god bless you.”

Barr also thanked Rosenstein for his support “during this transition.”

Matt Whitaker, Sessions’ former chief of staff who temporarily served as interim attorney general after Sessions was fired in November 2018, was also spotted in the audience, along with the President’s recent pick for associate attorney general, Jessie Liu.

Sessions called his time at the department a “special time,” thanking his team for the “most meaningful months of my professional life.”