US & World

Trump on Sessions: ‘I don’t have an attorney general’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) applaud during a speech by US President Donald Trump, 19 March 2018Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Trump said in an inteview he was “very disappointed” in Mr Sessions

US President Donald Trump has said he does not “have an attorney general” in his fiercest attack yet on Jeff Sessions.

In an interview with Hill.TV, Mr Trump renewed criticism of Mr Sessions’ decision to step aside from the inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He also said he was unhappy with Mr Sessions’ response to immigration.

The attorney general is yet to respond to Mr Trump’s comments.

It is unusual for a sitting president to attack their attorney general and critics accuse Mr Trump of trying to meddle in the legal system.

After the president criticised Mr Sessions last month, two key Republican senators signalled that they would support Mr Trump if he were to fire Mr Sessions after the November mid-term elections.

However, other Republicans told Politico they thought this would be a bad move and said they were standing by the attorney general.

Mr Sessions was an early supporter of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign.

But he left the Russia investigation – which is also reportedly now looking into whether Mr Trump has attempted to obstruct justice – in 2017, citing a potential conflict of interest, and handed control to his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

The president insists there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government, and denies he has attempted to obstruct justice.

What did Trump say?

“I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” Mr Trump said during Tuesday’s interview.

He added that he was “very disappointed” about Mr Sessions’ decision to leave the investigation.

Asked whether he would consider firing Mr Sessions, the president responded: “We’ll see what happens. A lot of people have asked me to do that.

“And I guess I study history, and I say I just want to leave things alone, but it was very unfair what he did [in recusing himself from the Russia investigation].”

Mr Trump also told Hill.TV that he was “not happy” with Mr Sessions on immigration and other issues, and said the attorney general had performed “very poorly” during the nomination process for the post.

“I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers,” he said.

“Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him.”

What has Trump previously said about Sessions?

This is not the first time Mr Trump has publicly criticised Mr Sessions.

In an interview with Fox and Friends last month, Mr Trump said: “You know the only reason I gave him the job? Because I felt loyalty, he was an original supporter. He was on the campaign. He knows there was no collusion.”

He also accused the attorney general of having failed to take control of the justice department.

Mr Sessions rejected the president’s remarks at the time, saying: “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.

“I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”

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