Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired back against President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying the Justice Department will not be “improperly influenced by political considerations.” Earlier, Trump attacked him on television, asking “what kind of a man is this?”
“I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President’s agenda,” Sessions said in the statement, which was posted on Twitter by Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores.
During an interview on “Fox & Friends,” (watch interview below) Trump said Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department,” criticizing the former Alabama senator for recusing himself from the investigation into possible links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
Sessions “took the job and then he said, ‘I’m going to recuse myself.’ I said what kind of a man is this?” Trump said in the interview.
The statement Sessions released did not mention the “Fox & Friends” interview directly.
The back-and-forth between the president and his attorney general comes only two days after the president’s former personal lawyer and former campaign chairman became felons in what was perhaps the most catastrophic day in Trump’s presidency.
Two key Republican senators signaled to President Donald Trump that he could replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the midterm elections in November, a move that would open the way for firing Robert Mueller or constraining his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who may be in line to head the Judiciary Committee next year, told reporters Thursday. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”
Senator Chuck Grassley, the current Judiciary chairman, also changed his position on Thursday, saying in an interview that he’d be able to make time for hearings for a new attorney general after saying in the past that the panel was too busy to tackle that explosive possibility, reports Bloomberg.
In warning against ousting Sessions before the election, Graham called that possibility “a nonstarter” that “would create havoc” with Senate efforts to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as well as with the midterm elections in November.
But his statement that such a move could come after the election represents a significant shift from Graham’s stance a year ago, when he warned Trump publicly that if he fired Sessions “there will be holy hell to pay.”
The statement from Sessions was released as the attorney general headed to the White House to discuss criminal sentencing reform with the president and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor.
Last month, President Trump questioned why Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not taken any action against former FBI lawyer Lisa Page who has ignored a subpoena to testify before Congress.
Ms. Page, who was briefly part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian collusion during the 2016 election, has refused to comply with a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.
The chairs of both committees threatened to hold Ms. Page in contempt if she does not appear before Congress by Friday morning. Her attorney, Amy Jeffress, said in statement on Wednesday that they didn’t have enough time to prepare for the hearing. Ms. Jeffress asked Congress for another date for a closed-door interview and accused Republican lawmakers of bullying tactics.
— overpasses4America (@o4america) July 12, 2018
The president questioned why Mr. Sessions hasn’t stepped in to force Ms. Page to testify. A frequent target of the president’s ire, Mr. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation, which has clearly irritated the president. In the past, Mr. Trump has said that he would not have picked Mr. Sessions to be attorney general if he was going to recuse himself.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 23rd, 2018