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Jeff Sessions honored by Justice Department officials past and present, given Cabinet chair

Barr will not recuse himself from Mueller probe

A crowd of current and former Department of Justice employees welcomed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a standing ovation on Thursday. Sessions returned to the Department of Justice in order to receive his Cabinet chair, the seat he sat in during cabinet meetings while he was in the administration.

Sessions' family was in attendance, including his wife, his daughters and 6 out of his 10 grandchildren. On stage he was joined by Attorney General William Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of Alabama, Richard Moore.

Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who served as Sessions chief-of-staff at the Justice Department, was present but not included on stage. 

Sessions resigned from the attorney general's office after the 2018 midterms at the request of President Trump, who replaced him with Whitaker. Sessions was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Mr. Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries, but subsequently fell out of favor with the president after he recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the election. Mr. Trump was openly critical of Sessions after that, at one point complaining that he did not "have an attorney general." 

In his introductory remarks, Rosenstein praised Sessions for working with the administration to bring about "a law and order agenda."

"Unexpected developments always arise, but Jeff Sessions stayed true to his values," Rosenstein said. He went on to highlight Session's work on overhauling regulations, among other issues.

"Jeff Sessions always aspired to the higher values," Rosenstein remarked of his former boss. 

Rosenstein then spoke to Sessions' grandchildren, saying he served in one of the most powerful seats in the country but, "he never forgot who he was and where he came from."

Attorney General Barr then took the podium to make some remarks, saying he wanted to use the opportunity to "salute" Sessions. He also expressed his "gratitude" for Sessions work with law enforcement. 

After being presented with the chair, Sessions took was again given a standing ovation. 

"I want to thank all of you for your hard work, your sacrifice," he said to the audience. He said his time as attorney general were some of the "most meaningful months in my professional life, for sure." Sessions added that he wanted to express his "strong support for Attorney General Barr."