Trump slammed Sessions as well as the investigation into potential coordination between his associates and Russia
He said it would be wrong for Mueller to look at his family's finances
President Donald Trump said in an interview published Wednesday that he would not have chosen Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself over matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump’s remarks, in a 50-minute interview with The New York Times, represent an extraordinary rebuke from the President toward the nation’s top law enforcement official who happens to be one of his earliest political allies.
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the President,” Trump said, referring to himself. “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’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair – and that’s a mild word – to the President.”
Before Trump had a lock on the Republican nomination last year, Sessions became the first sitting senator to back the real estate mogul’s presidential bid.
But several months into the job, Trump’s warm feelings for Sessions have clearly cooled. In the interview, Trump scolded Sessions for telling the Senate judiciary committee that he had not met with any Russians during the campaign. It was later revealed he had met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, at least two times.
Sessions later amended his testimony.
“Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the President said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment to CNN about the President’s remarks regarding Sessions. But a source familiar with his thinking said Sessions has no intention of stepping down as attorney general in the wake of Trump’s comments.
Trump also asserted that former FBI Director James Comey had presented him with a dossier containing a number of allegations about himself and Russia prior to his inauguration as a way to have leverage over him.
“In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump said.
The dossier included a wide range of allegations, including salacious and unproven ones about Trump. CNN reported in February that investigators had corroborated some points in the dossier, but not the salacious details. In the interview, Trump said he had immediately written it off as false.
“When he brought it to me, I said this is really made-up junk,” Trump said. “I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about man, this is such a phony deal.”
Trump said he had done the country a “great service” by firing Comey.
Investigating family’s finances ‘a violation’
Trump had harsh words for the Justice Department investigation into potential coordination between his associates and Russia to influence the 2016 election, suggesting the probe was unfair due to conflicts of interest.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein selected former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the investigation as special counsel after Trump fired Comey.
Trump suggested it would be wrong for Mueller to investigate his family’s finances. The Times reported that when asked if that would be a red line, Trump responded in the affirmative, but would not say what action, if any, he would take.
“I think that’s a violation,” Trump said. “Look, this is about Russia.”