President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was “disappointed” with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but declined to say whether he would fire him or if he believed Sessions should resign.
“I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself,” Trump said during a joint news conference with the Lebanese prime minister, hours after firing off his latest missive targeting Sessions. “If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have quite simply picked someone else.”
Pressed repeatedly about whether he wants Sessions out of his administration, the president simply added that he is “very disappointed” in Sessions but declined to go further.
“But we will see what happens, time will tell, time will tell,” the President said.
Trump’s comments came nearly a week after he launched an open critique of his attorney general, telling The New York Times that he regretted appointing Sessions in light of his recusal from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump pressed forward with that criticism on Monday and Tuesday, calling Sessions “beleaguered” and “VERY weak” on Twitter.
The criticism – and Trump’s subsequent refusal to close the door on this saga – has left a giant question mark hanging over Sessions’ perch atop the Justice Department and provoked what several Republicans have called yet another unnecessary distraction.
As the President intensified his criticism of the attorney general, a slew of Republican senators – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – voiced their support for Sessions and his decision to recuse himself from the federal investigation.
Hours after suggesting Sessions should have investigated former 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump appeared to make a second request of his attorney general, calling on him to crack down on “leaks” from various intelligence agencies.
“I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies,” Trump said. “These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen.”
Earlier in the day, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci defended Trump’s public critiques of Sessions, saying Trump “wants his Cabinet secretaries to have his back.”
Scaramucci, speaking with reporters at the White House, praised Sessions’ efforts campaigning for Trump during the election season and noted that he “was there early for him,” but conceded: “There’s obviously an issue in the relationship.”
“We’ll get a resolution shortly,” Scaramucci said.
Trump’s anger has lingered since Sessiosn decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in March and that frustration burst into the public eye last week.