00:57 - Source: CNN
White House won't say if Trump backs Sessions

Story highlights

On Day 3, the White House gave a blanket statement of support

Trump and Sessions' relationship has been scrutinized

Washington CNN —  

The White House on Thursday finally affirmed that President Donald Trump has confidence in his attorney general, two days after reporters first began asking whether he does.

“Absolutely, the president has confidence in all of his Cabinet and if he didn’t they wouldn’t be here,” White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday when asked about Trump’s confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The comment comes after Sanders and White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined the last two days to say whether Trump had confidence in Sessions, amid reports of a rift between the two men.

Even Thursday, Sanders failed to name Sessions as someone explicitly enjoying the President’s confidence. But her blanket statement pushed further than White House responses from the past two days.

Sanders and Spicer declined on Tuesday and Wednesday to confirm whether Trump had confidence in his attorney general, claiming they had not discussed the matter with Trump. Sanders on Thursday said she had finally talked to Trump about his confidence in Sessions on Wednesday night.

Still, the White House remained mum on the topic of Trump’s confidence in his attorney general for two days, even as reports swirled about ongoing tensions between the two and reports that Sessions recently offered to resign – lending credence to reports of lingering tensions.

Sources told CNN that Trump has remained frustrated with Sessions since he bowed to political pressure and recused himself from involvement in the FBI’s investigation into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia. The President’s frustrations returned after the deputy attorney general – acting on Sessions’ behalf – named a special counsel to oversee that investigation.

01:20 - Source: CNN
Conway: Trump has confidence in staff

A person close to Trump told CNN on Wednesday that Trump remains livid with Sessions, but understands that accepting the attorney general’s resignation would ignite yet another firestorm – one that his administration cannot afford.

Trump is keenly aware of the chain of consequences that unfolded after his firing of FBI Director James Comey in May, that have consumed his White House ever since, the person said on Wednesday.

Sessions and the President have had a series of heated exchanges in recent weeks, prompted by the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Russia interference in the election and alleged collusion by Trump aides, a source close to Sessions told CNN on Tuesday.

CNN’s Sara Murray and Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.