Trump: I wish I didn't pick Jeff Sessions

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump on Wednesday expressed fresh regret for appointing Jeff Sessions his attorney general.

In a series of tweets, Trump relayed comments from Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., about a New York Times report that said that in March 2017 the president told Sessions he should “reverse” his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Appearing on “CBS This Morning,” Gowdy was asked whether Trump’s request would constitute obstruction of justice.

“I don’t think so,” Gowdy said. “I think what the president is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward. If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too.”

Gowdy continued: “And that’s how I read that. ‘Sen. Sessions, why didn’t you tell me this before I picked you?’ Look, there are lots of really good lawyers in the country. He could have picked somebody else.”

“And I wish I did!” Trump wrote.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., in December 2017. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Sessions, the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump during his campaign, was sworn in as attorney general three weeks after Trump’s inauguration. But he quickly fell out of favor with the president.

The Times reports that Trump “berated” Sessions during a meeting at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2017, and asked his attorney general to “retain control” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Days before, Sessions recused himself from the probe after it was revealed he’d had undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador. According to the paper, the confrontation at Mar-a-Lago is now being scrutinized by Mueller as the special counsel weighs possible obstruction charges.

And Trump has repeatedly — and publicly — ripped Sessions ever since.

President Trump watches as Vice President Mike Pence, right, swears in Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general as Sessions’s wife, Mary, holds a Bible in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 9, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Last July, for instance, Trump accused his attorney general of taking a “very weak position” on investigating his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton.

Trump also described Sessions as “beleaguered.”

The same month, the Associated Press reported that Trump was considering firing Sessions.

Sessions has rarely pushed back against Trump’s attacks. But in February, after Trump ripped Sessions for asking the inspector general to investigate allegations of misconduct in the FBI’s handling of surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page, the attorney general fired back.

“As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor,” Sessions said in a statement, “and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”

Gowdy was also asked about Trump’s claims that a “spy” had been planted in his presidential campaign.

And the senior House Republican, who was one of the lawmakers briefed last week by the FBI, said there is no evidence to back up the president’s accusations.

Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday night, Gowdy said he believes the FBI did nothing wrong when it dispatched an informant to talk to two Trump campaign advisers — George Papadopoulos and Carter Page — after the agency received evidence that the men had suspicious contacts linked to Russia.

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do,” Gowdy said.

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