Jeff Sessions defends himself after Donald Trump calls him ‘disgraceful’ in feud over Russia probe
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended himself on Wednesday after being publicly attacked on Twitter by a vengeful US President Donald Trump.
Trump said that sessions Sessions isn’t doing enough to investigate whether the FBI abused government surveillance powers in the Russia probe, and called the attorney general “Disgraceful”.
Sessions responded curtly to the president in an official statement that read: “We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary
“As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honour.”
Trump had complained that Sessions has directed the Justice Department’s inspector general to evaluate whether prosecutors and agents abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in obtaining a warrant to monitor the communications of a Trump associate.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse,” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday.
“Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
Trump believes that FISA national security warrants were improperly used in 2016, when Barack Obama was president, to wiretap members of Trump’s election campaign team over their contacts with Russia.
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
A separate review of the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation under former Director James Comey is not late.
Wednesday’s remark was the second critical tweet in a week against Sessions, who reportedly submitted his resignation at least once last year after Trump insulted him.
One week ago Trump took aim at the attorney general in another tweet referencing Justice Department investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with them.
“Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation?” he wrote.
“Why aren’t Dem[ocrat] crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!”
The Justice Department declined to comment on Trump’s tweets.
Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
Sessions, a former Alabama senator who joined Trump’s campaign for the presidency early on, has been a stalwart enforcer of keynote administration policies.
They include cracking down on illegal immigration, violent gang crime and drugs, and installing conservative judges and prosecutors across the justice system.
But Trump has frequently targeted Sessions with his ire, particularly over independent special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and Trump’s possible obstruction of that investigation.
Because he was part of the campaign, Sessions recused himself early on from overseeing the probe, infuriating Trump.
According to former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, he had to convince Sessions at least once last year to rescind a decision to resign, and rescued him from being fired on two other occasions.
Priebus told Chris Whipple for his upcoming book The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, that Sessions submitted his resignation in May 2017 after Trump called him an “idiot” in the Oval Office following the Justice Department’s appointment of Mueller to handle the Russia probe.
Priebus and Vice-President Mike Pence convinced Sessions to stay, and then persuaded Trump to reject the resignation letter, according to an excerpt of the book published in vanity Fair.
Two months later, according to Priebus, Trump, frustrated over the Mueller probe, had to be talked out of firing Sessions, whom he had labelled “weak.”