Sessions, 72, served as a senator from Alabama for two decades—from 1997 to 2017—before he joined the Trump administration as attorney general in February 2017.
Sessions resigned from the attorney general position on Nov. 7, 2018, at Trump’s request. The attorney general position was filled briefly by Matthew Whitaker on an interim basis until William Barr was confirmed to the job in February.
News of Sessions exploring the possibility of a Senate bid emerged last week.
Sessions said he hasn’t yet had a chance to discuss his candidacy with the president.
Asked in a Fox News interview if he expected to get Trump’s support, Sessions said: “I hope so. I think he will respect my work.”
In a statement announcing his candidacy, Sessions said: “When I left President Trump’s Cabinet, did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the president? No. Have I said a cross word about President Trump? No.
“And I’ll tell you why: First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine. Second, the president is doing a great job for America and Alabama, and he has my strong support.
“As everyone knows, President Trump and I have had our ups and downs. But here’s the important part: the president is doing great work for America.
“When President Trump took on Washington, only one senator out of a hundred had the courage to stand with him: me. I was the first to support President Trump. I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again.
“Our freedoms have never been under attack like they are today. We have major party candidates for president campaigning on socialism, confiscating firearms, and closing down churches they disagree with. I’ve battled these forces my entire life, and I’m not about to surrender now. Let’s go!”
Sessions also posted a 30-second video to his Twitter page, reiterating his message. “This is a crucial time in our nation’s history. The left has become unhinged and they are threatening the very things that make America great,” he wrote.
This is a crucial time in our nation’s history. The left has become unhinged and they are threatening the very things that make America great. I’m running for U.S. Senate because we have to fight back. Let’s go! https://t.co/E1Ti9aYKNT pic.twitter.com/IlueZhTiT4
— Jeff Sessions (@jeffsessions) November 8, 2019
Trump had said in a statement on Nov. 7, 2018, when bidding farewell to Sessions: “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!”
But Trump also had expressed negativity when speaking about Sessions, who had recused himself from the Trump–Russia collusion investigation.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told The New York Times in an interview in 2017.
“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?” he had asked on Twitter in July 2017, with “A.G.” referring to Sessions.
Almost a year later, Trump wrote on Twitter: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself … I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined … and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”
Sessions will face a crowded field seeking the 2020 Republican nomination in the Southern state to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Republican candidates vying for the nomination include U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, state Rep. Arnold Mooney, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
When Jones defeated Moore in 2017, he became the first Democrat to win election to the Senate from Alabama in 25 years, in what had been considered a safe Republican state.
Reuters contributed to this report.