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Trump-Russia collusion investigations

Donald Trump regrets picking Jeff Sessions for attorney general, as a top Republican lawmaker denies FBI spied on election campaign

Trump made his remarks after House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy said he wished the president had nominated another attorney general; but Gowdy also undercut Trump’s claim that the FBI spied on his campaign

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 12:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 12:47am

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he wishes he’d never made Jeff Sessions his attorney general because the former Republican senator recused himself from the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump endorsed remarks made by House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy about Sessions Wednesday morning, even as he ignored Gowdy’s strong dismissal of the president’s claim that the FBI planted a “spy” in his campaign.

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In a series of tweets, Trump approvingly quoted Gowdy’s appearance on CBS This Morning, where he criticised Sessions for removing himself from oversight of the investigation that is now being run by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Gowdy said that Trump had many other options for the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

“There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” Gowdy, a Republican and Tea Party member, said. Citing the lawmaker’s comments in a Twitter posting, Trump added: “And I wish I did!”

In the same interview, though, Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, defended the Justice Department and FBI.

“When the FBI comes into contact with information about what a foreign government may be doing in our election cycle, I think they have an obligation to run it out,” Gowdy, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said.

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“I think the FBI, if they were at the table this morning, would tell you Russia was the target,” he continued, and added: “The fact that two people loosely connected with the Trump campaign may have been involved doesn’t diminish that Russia was the target and not the campaign”.

Asked why Trump persists with his “spygate” claim, Gowdy – who is not running for re-election for his South Carolina seat and has made a point of keeping his distance from the White House on the Russia investigation – said, “I’ve never met or talked to the president”.

Concerning Sessions, Trump has expressed similar sentiments before, but the attorney general hasn’t taken the hint to step down.

A political firestorm would erupt if Trump fired Sessions or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is supervising the Russia probe, in an effort to remove or rein in Mueller.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trump asked Sessions in March 2017 to reverse the decision to recuse himself, and that Mueller is now investigating that request as part of his inquiry into whether Trump sought to obstruct the Russia probe.