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Trump-Sessions Relations Just Got Even Worse

After new criticism, AG says he won't be 'improperly influenced by political considerations'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2018 1:34 PM CDT
Are Sessions' Days Numbered? Turbulent Day Suggests So
President Trump, left, listens as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, foreground, speaks during a Cabinet meeting on Aug. 16.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions hasn't been on good terms with President Trump pretty much from the start of the administration. On Thursday, however, things to seem to have reached a new low between them, with the president taking fresh potshots, the attorney general responding, and two top Republicans suggesting that Sessions' days in the job are numbered. The details:

  • Trump unloads: The president took aim at Sessions as part of his wide-ranging interview with Fox News, asserting that Sessions "never took control of the Justice Department, and it's sort of an incredible thing." He also reiterated his previous criticism over Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Robert Mueller investigation. “Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done, or he should have told me,” Trump said. “He took my job, and then he said, ‘I’m going to recuse myself.’ I said, ‘What kind of man is this?'"
  • Another shot: Trump said he gave Sessions the job only because of Sessions' early backing of the campaign. “You know, the only reason I gave him the job is because I felt loyalty," said Trump. "He was an original supporter.” The president added that because Sessions was involved with the campaign, "he knows there was no collusion."

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  • Sessions responds: In a statement posted on Twitter, Sessions didn't mention Trump, but he rebutted the charge that he didn't take control in his job. “I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in," he said, adding that the department has had "unprecedented success" in implementing Trump's agenda.
  • The bigger line: "While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations," said Sessions. The line is now in wide circulation in news stories.
  • Days numbered? Trump did not directly respond when asked if he planned to fire Sessions, notes CNN. But top Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley made comments that don't bode well for Sessions' job security, reports the Washington Post. Graham said it's "very likely" Sessions will be replaced after the midterms, while Grassley, who is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he'd have time to hold hearings on a new nominee this fall. That's a shift from previous statements saying such hearings would be impossible in 2018.
  • Prediction: "Replacing him before the election, to me, before would be a nonstarter, but the idea of having a new attorney general in the first term of President Trump's administration, I think is very likely," said Graham. Politico also notes that other one-time Sessions backers such as Ted Cruz and David Perdue declined to publicly offer their support on Thursday.
(Read more Jeff Sessions stories.)

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