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Thomas Gallatin / May 31, 2018

Trump and Sessions Aren’t Arch Enemies

The president’s latest criticism of his AG is simply a reiteration of his same complaint.

In a CBS interview, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was asked to comment on a New York Times report alleging that President Donald Trump had “berated” Attorney General Jeff Sessions for having recused himself from the Russia probe into election interference. Trump reportedly requested that Sessions reverse his recusal, which, if true, Sessions obviously declined.

Gowdy responded, “I think what the president is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward. If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated, too. And that’s how I read that, is, ‘Senator Sessions, why didn’t you tell me before I picked you?’ There are lots of really good lawyers in the country — [President Trump] could have picked someone else.”

Soon after the interview, Trump responded by quoting Gowdy’s assertion about picking"somebody else" and adding, “And I wish I did!” The mainstream media was quick to jump all over Trump’s latest “attack” on his AG, suggesting that Trump was seeking to convince Sessions to resign or is angling to fire him because there’s bad blood between them. And while there may be much popular speculation as to Trump’s opinion on the job Sessions is doing as AG, the fact remains that the only real issue Trump has with Sessions is the recusal. But Trump has referenced it repeatedly.

Back in July 2017, Trump explained to The New York Times why he was disappointed in Sessions: “Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. 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.” But it also should be noted that back in 2017 Sessions offered his resignation to Trump, which Trump refused. Nowhere has Trump stated that he regretted not accepting Sessions resignation.

In other words, Trump’s criticism of Sessions has been consistent and only a result of Sessions caving to Washington pressure to recuse himself. And this issue is repeatedly brought to bear because Robert Mueller’s probe continues as a thorn in Trump’s side. Therefore Trump’s frustration with Sessions over the recusal continues. This isn’t rocket science.

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