Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dodged questions about their future with the Department of Justice following criticisms from President Trump.
In an interview with the New York Times published Wednesday evening, Trump said that he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Trump also criticized the former Alabama senator’s answers at his confirmation hearing, which some Senate Democrats have said could amount to perjury.
Speaking at an event on cybercrime, Sessions said he loved his job and would continue serving “as long as that is appropriate.”
“We in the Department of Justice will continue every single day to work hard, to serve the national interest, and we wholeheartedly join in the priorities of President Trump,” said Sessions when asked if he had considered resignation. “He gave us several directives. One is to dismantle Internet transnational criminal organizations. That’s what we are announcing today. The dismantling of the largest dark website in the world by far. I congratulate our people for that. I have the honor of serving as attorney general. It’s something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself. We love this job. We love this department. I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”
Sessions was then asked how he could continue to effectively serve without the confidence of Trump.
“We are serving right now,” said Sessions. “The work we are doing today is the kind of work we intend to continue. Just last week, we announced the largest health care [fraud] takedown ever in the United States. We had all the major law enforcement leaders in my office yesterday to talk about our unified efforts to improve our crime fighting with state and local officials. I’m totally confident we can continue to run this office in an effective way. I really would like for you to focus now on the work of the individuals behind me that have helped put this case together so that we can celebrate and affirm.”
Reporters asked Rosenstein about Trump’s remark that he is from Baltimore and “there are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.” Rosenstein is originally from Philadelphia but served as a U.S. attorney in Maryland.
“As the attorney general said, we are working here every day to advance the priorities of the Department of Justice and the administration,” said Rosenstein. “I was proud to be here yesterday, proud to be here today. I’ll be proud to work here tomorrow, and we are spending every minute working to advance the interests of the department.”
Trump said in his Times interview that Sessions gave him “zero” heads-up about recusing himself from the investigation into potential ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Sessions recused himself in March after reports surfaced of his meetings with Russian officials while working with the Trump campaign. In May, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to serve as a special counsel to handle the investigation. As Sessions and Rosenstein were taking questions, news broke that Mueller’s investigation had expanded to look into Trump’s businesses.
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