President Trump just recently confessed that he would never have appointed Jeff Sessions if he had been aware that the attorney general was going to recuse himself from leading the Russia investigation. Trump told the New York Times that the action of Mr. Sessions was “very unfair to the president.”
Sessions recused himself after admitting that he met with Russia’s ambassador. The president also indicated that he thought Sessions gave “some bad answers” at his confirmation hearing. The attorney general has not yet commented on Trump’s candid remarks.
Jeff Sessions was one of the president’s earliest supporters in the White House bid. He served as Trump’s senior advisor on politics, national security, and policy. If he hadn’t recused himself, he would have led the justice department’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Because of his recusal, it eventually resulted in the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the investigation.
In the interview with the Times, the intensity of the president’s anger was apparent. Trump said: “A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case… 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 then admitted to the interviewer that Sessions had given him “zero” notice of the recusal. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”
The president then shifted his focus to the performance of Sessions at his Senate confirmation hearing in January. The attorney general denied meeting any Russians but later had to reveal that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump said: “Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers… He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”
President Trump also suggested that the justice department’s Russia investigation is filled with conflicts of interest. Mr. Mueller had wanted to replace James Comey who was fired by Trump as FBI director. “There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point,” Trump said.
The president once again defended himself in the interview. “I don’t think we’re under investigation,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Associated Press news agency followed up the interview with comments from a Trump adviser saying that the president’s words did not mean he was going to fire the attorney general. But the counsel also questioned whether such a public criticism might make Sessions want to quit.
What do you think about the president’s words about Jeff Sessions?