Trump makes headlines criticizing Sessions: Observers wonder when the Attorney General will go —
By Glynn Wilson –
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In another explosive story from the New York Times out Thursday, President Donald J. Trump made a statement criticizing his pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, for recusing himself from any investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election after it was revealed by the Washington Post and other news outlets that he had numerous contacts with Russian officials and lobbyists during the campaign.
In our own followup investigation, prompted by a report in The Guardian, it is clear that Sessions has long ties to many of the same Russian oligarchs that Trump and his associates were colluding with to win the election over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
But on Wednesday in a rare interview with New York Times staff reporters, Trump claimed he never would have appointed Sessions had he known the Alabama lawyer and former Republican Senator would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has “dogged his presidency,” as the Times reports it.
When Trump was asked what mistake Sessions’ or Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s made, Trump’s words are telling, if partially incoherent as usual.
“Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself,” the president mused.
When pressed on how that was a mistake, Trump says: “Well, 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.”
When pressed on whether Sessions gave him “no heads up at all, in any sense?” Trump said. “Zero.”
“So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself … which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.”
Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, now a candidate in the special election to replace Sessions in the U.S. Senate, issued a statement on Tuesday defending Sessions and calling on candidates to “put country over party.”
“As a former U.S. Attorney and prosecutor, I know how important it is to put politics aside and do the right thing no matter the consequences,” Jones said. “While I did not support the appointment of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, and continue to disagree with his actions on many issues, Jeff Sessions did the right thing both ethically and legally when he recused himself from the investigation in to Russias actions.”
Jones, who is known for successfully prosecuting the Klansmen responsible for killing four young girls in the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, said no president is above the law.
“No President should be threatening the officials duly sworn to uphold the law,” Jones said. “President Trump’s failure to understand the role of Attorney General Sessions in upholding the laws of our country, rather than serving as a means of his own personal protection is ill-informed and wrong. And his failure to respect and support the investigation in to Russian meddling in our election is troublesome and dangerous.”
Jones said the American people and the people of Alabama should fully support Sessions’ recusal and the appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“We should all condemn efforts by President Trump to threaten members of the Department of Justice and Special Counsel Mueller,” Jones said. “The reputation of our nation, the credibility of our elections and the rule of law is at stake. There is no room for partisanship here.”
It is clear that Trump didn’t want Sessions to recuse himself because he wanted partisan, political protection for his collusion with Russian operatives in business and during the election, which is now clearly the subject of the special counsel’s investigation. Trump tried to claim once again that he was not under investigation.
“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
But it is clear that he and his entire family and many of his campaign associates are in fact under an intense, ongoing investigation, which escalated to include the damning charge of obstruction of justice when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9. Comey later testified the president was a liar who can’t be trusted with America’s national security.
Doug Jones of Birmingham decided to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on May 9, the day Trump fired Comey. I asked him in a Facebook message if that had any impact on his decision to run. He said yes.
Sessions’ initially had no comment on Trump’s statements Thursday morning, but later in the day, he said he was proud to be a part of the Department of Justice working for Trump and said he will remain in the post “as long as that is appropriate.”
Observers in the press gallery in the Capitol Rotunda and the Senate office buildings in Washington are all abuzz about what will happen next. Will Sessions be forced out and fired? Will he hold his tongue about what he knows of Trump’s collusion with Russia? Or will he resign and tell all and testify against Trump?
It is so hot in Washington coming up on August that a threat of not taking a recess to continue trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare, has even many Republicans pushing to go home for the end of summer recess as soon as possible, even if that means they will get screamed at by hordes of constituents protesting the threat that the policians in the nation’s capital are trying to take away what little health care coverage they have now.
Stay tuned. It’s only going to get hotter as the Trump administration runs away from trying to do anything about climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels — and as the Russia investigation heats up on Trump’s team.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.