Donald Trump said his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not ‘mentally qualified’ to conduct the job the president appointed him to do as the war of words between the two men showed no sign of de-escalating.
The two have been in a back-and-forth Twitter battle all weekend over Session’s time as attorney general. Trump was furious Sessions recused himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Sessions ultimately resigned at Trump’s request.
The president, in an interview taped Friday but aired Sunday, again railed against Sessions and used the occasion to argue he outwitted a deep state conspiracy that tried to remove him from office.
‘Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general – should have never been Attorney General,’ Trump told Sharyl Attkisson for her show ‘Full Measure,’ which airs on the Sinclair network.
‘He’s not mentally qualified to be Attorney General. He was the biggest problem,’ the president continued. Trump named Sessions, who was one of the first senators to support his presidential campaign, as his choice to lead the Justice Department shortly after he won the election.
‘They always had the Department of Justice, but they kept it under Jeff Sessions,’ Trump said in what appeared to be a reference to the ‘deep state.’
Donald Trump said his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not ‘mentally qualified’ to conduct the job the president appointed him to do
President Trump Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spent the weekend in a war of words and tweets that showed no sign of de-escalating
President Trump has been invested in the theory that there is a ‘deep state’ at work in the government bureaucracy – particularly the Justice Department – that tried to keep him from winning the 2016 election and then tried to remove him from office.
In his interview with Attkisson, he hit out at some of the officials he has accused of being part of such an effort, particularly former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump again called a ‘dirty cop’; and former FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, whose exchanged anti-Trump texts during the 2016 election.
‘I have a chance to break the deep state. It’s a vicious group of people. It’s very bad for our country,’ Trump said in the interview.
‘They never thought I was going to win and then I won. And then they tried to get me out,’ he added.
But his conspiracy theory has – not yet anyway – panned out. There have been no arrests and internal Justice Department investigations found no evidence of wrong doing on the part of any person on Trump’s list.
Sessions, meanwhile, has returned to Alabama to run for the Senate seat he resigned from in order take the job as Trump’s attorney general.
Trump’s latest salvos comes after he formally endorsed Session’s opponent in the Republican primary, college football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Sessions’ took to Twitter Saturday to defend himself against Trump’s charges and said he agreed with his former boss that the Mueller investigation was ‘phony.’
Sessions also insisted that he was the one who urged Trump to fire Comey as FBI director.
The former attorney general also struck a defiant tone, saying he won’t apologize for upholding the rule of law when he led the Justice Department.
‘I will never apologize for following the law and serving faithfully and with honor,’ Sessions tweeted late on Saturday.
President Trump and Jeff Sessions together in happier time: February 9, 2017, when Sessions was sworn in as attorney general in a ceremony in the Oval Office
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (left) responded to President Trump (seen right at his golf course in Sterling, Virginia, on Saturday) on Twitter late on Saturday
Sessions tweeted that he agreed with his former boss that the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian election meddling was ‘phony.’ Sessions also insisted that he was the one who urged Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey
Sessions continued: ‘You and I fight for the same agenda.’ He then lashed out at his rival in the GOP Senate primary in Alabama, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, whom Trump has endorsed
Comey (seen above in June 2019) signed off on an investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia during the 2016 election and later emerged as a prominent critic of the president after Trump fired him in May 2017. Trump and many of his allies say that investigation should never have begun
‘Neither of us knew about the phony investigation into our campaign until after I was sworn in.
‘As you will recall, I recommended firing Comey from the very beginning.’
Sessions continued: ‘You and I fight for the same agenda.’
He then lashed out at Tuberville.
‘Tuberville is so weak he won’t debate me & too weak for Alabama,’ Sessions wrote.
‘AL will vote for you this fall, but Alabama will not take orders from Washington on who to send to the Senate.’
Comey signed off on an investigation into the Trump campaign during the 2016 contest, to see whether any of Trump’s advisers were working with Russian officials looking to influence the election. He later emerged as a prominent critic of the president after Trump fired him in May 2017.
Trump and many of his allies say that counter-intelligence investigation should never have begun in 2016.
After Comey’s firing, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
Sessions recused himself from overseeing the case after Comey’s firing, saying his involvement in Trump’s campaign presented a conflict of interest.
Trump was angry at Sessions since his recusal paved the way for the then-deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to appoint Mueller.
The Mueller probe ended with no indictments against Trump campaign officials for colluding with Russia, though the special counsel left open the question of whether the president obstructed justice.
Earlier on Saturday, Trump escalated his Twitter feud with his former attorney general, telling him that he ‘had no courage’ and ‘ruined many lives’ by recusing himself from the Mueller investigation.
‘Jeff, you had your chance & you blew it,’ the president tweeted on Saturday.
‘Recused yourself ON DAY ONE (you never told me of a problem), and ran for the hills.
‘You had no courage, & ruined many lives.
Trump has never forgiven Sessions for recusing himself from the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Trump (left) and Sessions are seen above in Quantico, Virginia, in December 2017
‘Jeff, you had your chance & you blew it,’ the president tweeted on Saturday. ‘Recused yourself ON DAY ONE (you never told me of a problem), and ran for the hills. You had no courage, & ruined many lives’
Trump also called on Sessions to quit the race for his former US Senate seat from Alabama. The president has endorsed Sessions’ Republican rival, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, in the GOP primary
Trump was reacting to a tweet from Sessions earlier on Saturday, in which the former attorney general wrote: ‘Mr. President, Alabama can and does trust me, as do conservatives across the country. Perhaps you’ve forgotten. They trusted me when I stepped out and put that trust on the line for you’
‘The dirty cops, & others, got caught by better & stronger people than you.
‘Hopefully this slime will pay a big price.’
Trump also called on Sessions to quit the race for his former US Senate seat from Alabama.
Sessions and Tuberville finished neck-and-neck in March in a Republican primary, setting up for a July 14 runoff. The winner of that contest will face of in the November election against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won Sessions’ former seat in a 2017 special election.
‘You should drop out of the race & pray that super liberal [Democratic Senator] Doug Jones, a weak & pathetic puppet for Crazy Nancy Pelosi & Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, gets beaten badly,’ Trump tweeted.
‘He voted for impeachment based on “ZERO”. Disgraced Alabama.
‘Coach Tuberville will be a GREAT Senator!’
Trump was reacting to a tweet from Sessions earlier on Saturday, in which the former attorney general wrote: ‘Mr. President, Alabama can and does trust me, as do conservatives across the country.
‘Perhaps you’ve forgotten.
‘They trusted me when I stepped out and put that trust on the line for you.’
Sessions gave up his 20-year Alabama seat when Trump appointed him Attorney General in 2017 – but he is now fighting to get his old seat back
President Trump is voicing his support for Tommy Tuberville who is running against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is facing a tough senate race
Hours after the president’s tweet, Sessions fired back at Trump to tell him that it was lucky he recused himself during Mueller’s Russia investigation
The back-and-forth on Twitter is a continuation of the feud which erupted on Friday, when the president endorsed Tuberville while slamming Sessions.
That prompted Sessions, who normally does not reply to Trump’s barbs, to fire back.
The Senate hopeful told Trump on Twitter that he is ‘damn fortunate’ he recused himself from Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election.
Trump encouraged Alabama’s voters to pick former Auburn coach Tuberville while saying Sessions ‘let our country down’ because of his recusal in 2017.
‘Three years ago, after Jeff Sessions recused himself, the Fraudulent Mueller Scam began. Alabama, do not trust Jeff Sessions. He let our Country down. That’s why I endorsed Coach Tommy Tuberville ( @TTuberville ), the true supporter of our #MAGA agenda!’ the president wrote in the tweet.
Around four hours later, Sessions fired back: ‘@RealDonaldTrump Look, I know your anger, but recusal was required by law. I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did. It protected the rule of law & resulted in your exoneration. Your personal feelings don’t dictate who Alabama picks as their senator, the people of Alabama do.’
But Sessions still attempted to smooth things over with the president despite being humiliated on Twitter, by trying to embrace Trump’s views on immigration while knocking Tuberville’s.
‘Tuberville’s a coward who is rightly too afraid to debate me. He says you’re wrong on China & trade. He wants to bring in even more foreign workers to take American jobs. That’s not your agenda and it’s not mine or Alabama’s. I know Alabama. Tuberville doesn’t,’ Sessions wrote.
Trump has long held anger towards Sessions ever since March 2017 when he recused himself from the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
‘Sessions should have never recused himself,’ Trump said to the New York Times in July 2017. ‘If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.’
Tuberville’s tweet earlier in the week was very similar to the president’s own message on Friday
Sessions has always stated that ‘The law required that I recuse myself from the investigation.’
‘The specific law for the Department of Justice required that I recuse myself from the Russian collusion investigation. To not recuse myself from that investigation, of which I was a target as a senior campaign official and a witness, would have been breaking the law. I do not and will not break the law.’ Sessions said in a statement earlier this month.
Sessions became the U.S. attorney general in 2017 and was fired by Trump in November 2018.
Tuberville and Sessions are running against one another in a July 14 Republican primary and will go on to face incumbent Democratic Alabama Senator Doug Jones in November’s election.
Sessions resignation came on November 7, 2018 – a day after the national mid-term elections, at Trump’s request.
President Donald Trump voiced his support for Republican Alabama Senatorial candidate Tommy Tuberville while slamming his political opponent, Republican candidate Jeff Sessions
Former American football coach and former player Tommy Tuberville is hoping to win a seat in the Senate and is campaigning in Alabama but faces Jeff Sessions in a runoff election in July
Trump had already formally endorsed Tuberville in March tweeting: ‘Tommy will protect your Second Amendment, (which is under siege), is strong on Crime and the Border, and truly LOVES our Military and our Vets.’
Tuberville’s tweet was similar to the president’s after sending his own message earlier this week.
‘3 years ago today @jeffsessions threw @realDonaldTrump to the wolves with the Mueller appointment. When faced with supporting POTUS or running scared, Jeff Sessions chose the easy way out and recused himself. I won’t ever run from a fight in the U.S. Senate.’
A May survey suggested 55 percent of voters favoring Tuberville, with 32 percent supporting Sessions according to Newsweek.
In Alabama, Sessions in many ways was Trump before Trump on some policies issues, embracing hard line stances on immigration and trade.
Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump, donning a Make America Great Again hat at an Alabama rally.
But in a political twist of irony, his public falling out with Trump threatens his hope of recapturing his former seat.
But Tuberville, boosted by name recognition from years as a football coach at Auburn University, positioned himself as a political outsider and tried to capitalize on Trump’s past criticisms of Sessions.
Sessions usually refers to Tuberville, who until last year was registered to vote in Florida, as a ‘tourist from Florida.’
The former senator also asked where Tuberville was at the time Session was helping Trump get elected.
‘Where was he when Donald Trump needed him?’ Sessions asked earlier this year.