White House issues new Sessions warning as Trump tears into AG
The top White House spokesperson warned Tuesday that President Trump’s frustration with Jeff Sessions is not going away, moments after the president tore into his attorney general on Twitter as “VERY weak” on Hillary Clinton’s supposed “crimes.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking with “Fox & Friends,” also neither confirmed nor denied reports that Trump has discussed the possibility of firing Sessions and did not rule it out. She said she hasn’t been part “of any conversations discussing any potential replacements,” but made clear that Trump is “frustrated and disappointed” in the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia meddling probe.
As for whether Trump wants Sessions out, she said, “That’s a decision that if the president wants to make, he certainly will.”
She also addressed rumors about former federal prosecutor and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani being considered for the job. She said Giuliani is someone Trump “respects” but, “Right now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the attorney general.”
Earlier Tuesday morning, Trump unleashed a battery of tweets berating Sessions, first for the absence of an investigation into Clinton’s connections to Ukraine and then for the AG’s alleged stance on other Clinton controversies.
Sessions has been under fire since last week, when Trump leveled harsh criticisms in a New York Times interview, calling Sessions’ recusal “very unfair to the president” and adding that he never would have appointed him attorney general had he known he would do so.
Sessions, though, said he would stay put. And Sanders had told reporters last week that the president “clearly has confidence in him or he would not be attorney general.”
Trump’s intensifying criticism has fueled speculation that Sessions may resign even if Trump opts not to fire him. During an event at the White House, Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Sessions should step down. The attorney general said last week he intended to stay in his post.
If Trump were to fire Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be elevated to the top post on an acting basis. That would leave the president with another attorney general of whom he has been sharply critical in both public and private for his handling of the Russia probe, according to four White House and outside advisers who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
It could also raise the specter of Trump asking Rosenstein — or whomever he appoints to fill the position — to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign.
The president’s tweet about the former Alabama senator comes less than a week after Trump, in a New York Times interview, said that Sessions should never have taken the job as attorney general if he was going to recuse himself. Sessions made that decision after it was revealed that he had met with a top Russian diplomat last year.
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