Trump calls US Attorney General Jeff Sessions ‘beleaguered’, and doubts over tenure deepen

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 8:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 10:46pm

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced increasing questions about his future on Monday, a day that began with a fresh public slap from his boss, President Donald Trump, and continued with new calls to testify about his conversations with the Russian ambassador last year.

Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump and a strong influence during last year’s campaign, raised the president’s ire earlier this year with his decision to step aside from overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible cooperation by people associated with the Trump campaign.

Sessions acted on advice from the department’s ethics lawyers, who said he should not play a role in an investigation involving a campaign on which he worked. But in a startling interview with The New York Times last week, Trump said Sessions’ decision to recuse was unfair to him, and he made it clear that he blamed Sessions for the fact that he is now facing a widening special counsel investigation.

Since then, things have gotten worse for the attorney general.

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that Sessions was “beleaguered” and questioned why the Justice Department wasn’t doing more to investigate Hillary Clinton’s dealings with Russia: “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?”

Later in the day, Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, did nothing to allay doubts about Sessions’ future, refusing to say in an interview whether Trump wants him to resign.

“They need to sit down face to face and have a reconciliation and a discussion of the future,” he said in an interview with CNN. “They need to speak and determine what the future of the relationship looks like.”

Sessions visited the White House on Monday, sparking a quick flurry of speculation that he was about to resign or be fired.

But Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions was there for a standing Monday lunch meeting with White House Counsel Donald McGahn. The attorney general had a discussion with McGahn and Tom Price, the Health and Human Services secretary, she said.

Sessions did not see Trump, she said, and no meeting with the president has been scheduled.

Sessions said last week that he has no plans to step down, saying he loved his job and would stay as long as it was “appropriate.” Flores said Monday that hasn’t changed. She had no comment on Scaramucci’s interview or on Trump’s “beleaguered” comment.