Donald Trump’s most famous line is “You’re fired,” which is funny because, as president, Trump has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t actually like to fire people.
Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, was let go only after he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (And after Flynn’s firing, Trump has expressed regret that he had to go.) White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday but, according to all available reporting, Trump wanted him to stay on even after hiring Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
The one exception: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey due, according to the President, to his aggressive stance in relation to the Russia investigation.
Which brings us to today. And this tweet from Trump: “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?”
Trump is calling his own attorney general “beleaguered!” The guy who was his most prominent Senate supporter! The man who helped shape Trump’s immigration policies!
(Side note: To show just how much Trump has changed perceptions and expectations of how a president acts, imagine for a second Barack Obama sending this same tweet out about Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch. It’s literally impossible to conceive of.)
And Monday’s tweet was far from the only time in the past week in which Trump has made clear just how he feels about Sessions. In a interview with The New York Times last Wednesday, Trump said “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.”
Then, over the weekend, Trump tweeted this: “So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?”
In the wake of Trump’s tweet Monday about the “beleaguered” Sessions, Axios reported that Trump has been mulling bringing in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as attorney general – a job which, currently, is occupied.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, citing two sources, also reported Monday that Trump and Sessions haven’t spoken since Trump bashed him to the Times last week.
Add it up and here’s what you get: Trump wants Sessions gone. But he doesn’t want to swing the proverbial sword. He wants to make Sessions’ life so uncomfortable that Sessions throws up his hands and walks away.
Sessions, the day after the Times interview, told reporters – in the papal plural no less! – “We love this job. We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”
What does Trump do in the wake of that statement? Ramps up the rhetoric against Sessions so there can be no debate between reasonable people that Trump wants his attorney general to go do something else. But he doesn’t do it to Sessions directly; he does it via a serious of public statements and leaks.
Sessions hasn’t responded to this latest Trump volley. But, at this point, it is very tough for Sessions to simply ignore the message coming out of the White House. And that message is: We want you gone. So, go.