The White House says President Donald Trump’s comments at a Monday evening dinner on his attorney general were not nearly as disdainful as previously reported.
Trump is said to have complained about Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and said his AG needs to ‘get moving’ in commentary during a dinner last with conservatives.
‘You could feel it dripping with venom,’ an attendee of the meal told the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus afterward.
A White House official who at the dinner said a guest, not the president, brought Sessions up, and Trump’s remarks were ‘neither notable nor venomous’.
President Donald Trump lashed out at Jeff Sessions again on Monday evening, reviving a months-old clash with his attorney general. He’s seen Monday in the Oval Office
The president has been wrestling with his decision to promote Sessions since the early days of his administration.
He has said he was blindsided by his AG’s recusal from the Russia investigation and that he would have nominated someone else for the position had he known it was coming. The recusal helped pave the way for the special counsel investigation that’s dogging the Republican administration.
Trump spent a week in July humiliating Sessions in interviews and on Twitter, saying he was ‘VERY weak’ on Hillary Clinton’s emails and leakers and ‘beleaguered.’ He said the law enforcement official should be ‘tougher’ on government leakers and only ‘time will tell’ if Sessions will last in his current position.
The president is said to have demanded his AG’s resignation earlier this year, in February, only to keep him on the counsel of the vice president and top-ranking aides.
Eventually Trump turned his attention to other issues, and the tension appeared to dissipate.
At a rally Friday evening in Session’s home state, Trump said the former U.S. senator’s replacement, Luther Strange, would ‘be taking over for a man that you all love.’
‘You love Jeff Sessions. He’s doing a good job. He is doing a good job,’ the president told a crowd of Strange supporters in Huntsville, Alabama.
Trump complained about Sessions’ recusal from the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian meddling. He likewise said that Sessions needs to ‘get moving’ during a dinner with conservatives
Sessions held his Senate seat for a decade before he resigned to serve as Trump’s attorney general. Strange is competing against Republican Roy Moore in a run-off today in a bid to keep it.
Trump lauded Sessions at the Friday night rally – but also directed rally goers chanting ‘lock her up’ to put pressure on their former senator to prosecute Clinton.
‘You gotta to speak to Jeff Sessions about that,’ he told chanters.
He hit Sessions more directly on Monday night, WSJ’s source indicated.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged in a July interview that followed Trump’s Twitter tirade against Sessions that the president remains frustrated with Sessions.
‘That frustration certainly hasn’t gone away and I don’t think it will,’ she said.
Trump told the New York Times in an interview later that day: ‘Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.’
Asked about Sessions again just after the interview came out, Trump told reporters during a news conference, ‘I’m very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens.’
‘You could feel it dripping with venom,’ an attendee of the meal told the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus afterward
Trump said, ‘I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level.
‘These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen. You know many of my views in addition to that, but I think that’s one of the very important things that they have to get on with.’
Of Sessions’ job security, Trump said, ‘Time will tell. Time will tell.’
Since then the special counsel appointed by the DOJ has been inching closer and closer to the Oval Office with his investigation into alleged collusion between associates of Trump and the Kremlin.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has demanded White House documents and interviews with chief aides to Trump.
In addition to Russian meddling and potential collusion, he has his sights now on Trump. He’s said to be reviewing charges that Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI director James Comey.