The strained relationship between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems likely to become even more strained soon.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he wished he had chosen someone other than Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General. Trump, in an apparent reference to a quote from Rep. Trey Gowdy, tweeted: “…. There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” And I wish I did!”
Trump has been angry with Sessions for a while about the latter’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. The President has frequently made comments about that displeasure in interviews and on Twitter.
The Trey Gowdy quote that Donald Trump chose to elaborate on came as Gowdy spoke to a reporter about Trump’s possible feelings regarding the Russia probe. Gowdy had been asked whether Trump may have obstructed justice by allegedly asking Sessions to reverse his recusal decision in the Russia case.
Gowdy answered that he felt Trump was merely “expressing frustration” about the situation, and that Sessions should have explained his reasons for recusing himself before agreeing to become the AG.
Sessions’ recusal allowed Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, another frequent target of Donald Trump’s ire, to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling has enraged Trump, and he consistently refers to the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”
Trump has often questioned the motives of the people behind the Mueller probe. He even suggested recently that the investigation is a ploy by Democrats to influence the midterm elections. (Hillary Clinton liked to suggest the same thing about the FBI investigation into her own behavior.)
As a result of Sessions’ recusal opening him up to investigation, the relationship between Trump and the nation’s top cop has soured considerably. Sessions himself sat for an interview with Mueller, and given that we’re pretty sure Sessions was discussing Trump campaign business with the Russian ambassador in 2016, Sergei Kislyak, that interview may have put Sessions himself in danger.
Though, since he agreed to recuse himself from the investigation, Jeff Sessions has likely kept himself safe from possible obstruction of justice charges. And that’s probably why he did it.
But Donald Trump probably wanted someone who would stick up for him. Trump is well known to value personal loyalty above most other traits; he no doubt sees Session’s recusal decision as a cowardly attempt to cover his own ass.
Which, of course, it was.
But remember folks, Jeff Sessions was one of the first “regular” Republicans to fully embrace Trump. At a time when other mainstream Republicans were still condemning Trump as a dangerous outsider, Sessions was out there stumping for him.
Trump may feel betrayed by Sessions’ decision to sit out the Russia investigation. He told the New York Times last July that he wouldn’t have chosen Sessions to be his AG had he known that Sessions was going to recuse himself.
But people close to Trump indicate that Sessions isn’t in danger of being asked to resign, at least not yet. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, said yesterday that he doesn’t believe Trump will fire Sessions before Mueller’s final report comes out.
But Giuliani later said that doesn’t mean Session’s job is totally safe either, and he wouldn’t confirm whether Sessions will be forced to resign after Mueller’s final report is published.
Sessions for his part has stood by his decision to recuse himself. He hasn’t offered any indication that he tends to leave his position as attorney general, either. It was reported last year that he offered to resign after Trump allegedly chewed him out and called him an idiot. But it’s the middle of 2018 now and Jeff Sessions still hasn’t gone anywhere.
That makes him one of the most enduring figures of the Trump administration.