“I serve at the pleasure of the president. I’ve understood that from the day I took the job.”
Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from all things Russia-related eventually led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, with the intervening impetus of Trump firing FBI Director James Comey and Comey leaking memos to the press.
That recusal is the defining event so far of the Trump administration because the Special Counsel investigation seems to have developed into a search for a crime, rather than an investigation into a crime. I addressed this morass in There’s no good way out for Trump from Special Counsel quicksand:
When people look back upon the history of the Trump administration, I think Jeff Sessions recusing himself is going to be, at least as of this point in time, the single biggest influencer of how the administration went. Now obviously we still got time, other things could happen. But as of now, that has probably been the single most significant event of the administration because it put into motion this seemingly endless, wide-ranging attempt to find a crime by the Mueller team. And that, I think, is the defining moment in the administration.
So I understand Trump’s frustration, and I understand that it all goes back to the fact that if he hadn’t appointed Sessions, he had appointed somebody else, that he wouldn’t be in this situation now with this special counsel seemingly out of control ….”
Trump’s frustration with the Special Counsel investigation has boiled over into repeated Twitter attacks and negative comments about Sessions. There have been intimations that Sessions may be fired, giving rise to theories that Trump would fired Sessions, appoint a recess appointment or nominate a new AG, and somehow use these personnel maneuvers to fire Mueller.
There has been pretty aggressive pushback from Republicans in support of Sessions. There has been praise (which I think is deserved) for Sessions, and bewilderment as to why Trump would go after the one person who was most politically loyal to Trump early in the primaries, and who actually is doing an effective job implementing the Trump agenda.
Numerous Senators have issued warnings that if Sessions is fired, Trump should not expect either a recess appointment or confirmation of a new nominee.
A word of humble advice to our President: if you’re thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the Atty General, forget about it. pic.twitter.com/7P896qJJzX
— Senator Ben Sasse (@SenSasse) July 27, 2017
There also has been speculation that Trump is trying to pressure Sessions to resign.
One staunch defender of Sessions, and critic of Trump’s attacks, is Tucker Carlson, who issued a stinging monologue the other day on this show:
So it’s no surprise that Sessions chose Tucker for an interview on the situation.
The big takeaway from the interview is that Sessions has no plans to resign, and still seems remarkably loyal to the Trump agenda. He did say the Trump attacks were “hurtful” but it didn’t really sway him. He also said he made the right decision on recusal.
Here are some transcript excerpts via Fox News reporting:
Speaking with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in El Salvador, Sessions admitted Trump’s criticism has been “kind of hurtful,” but insisted he would continue in the job unless Trump fired him.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president,” Sessions said. “If he wants to make a change, he can certainly do so and I would be glad to yield in that circumstance, no doubt about it.”
Trump has repeatedly slammed Sessions in media interviews and on Twitter over the attorney general’s decision in March to recuse himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russian activities during last year’s election campaign.
“I understand [Trump’s] feelings about it, because this has been a big distraction for him,” Sessions told Tucker Carlson. “[But] I’m confident I made the right decision. The decision is consistent with the rule of law. An attorney general who doesn’t follow the law is not very effective in leading the Department of Justice.”
Sessions was in San Salvador Thursday as part of a two-day trip meant to bolster cooperation with the Central American nation in the fight against the MS-13 street gang, which the attorney general has described as a top security threat to the United States.
“I do believe that we are making tremendous progress,” said Sessions. “We had a 25 percent increase in prosecution of criminals with guns just this last quarter, the first real quarter that I’ve been in office … We’ve achieved, in many ways, more than I thought at this point in time.”
Sessions pointed out that despite the rift over his recusal, he and Trump share “a common interest” in cracking down on crime and illegal immigration.
“I believe that I understand [Trump’s] mission. I understand his goals,” the attorney general said. “That’s why I supported him for president. I share his beliefs that we’ve got to do more about crime, more about illegal immigration, more about gangs and violence and it’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to lead that effort.”
Sessions also told Carlson that the Justice Department would step up its investigation and prosecution of what he called “criminal leaks” after a series of reports detailing the progress of the Russia investigation and disclosing sensitive national security information.
“It cannot continue. Some people need to go to jail,” warned Sessions, who vowed, “If we can make cases, they are going to jail … The president has every right to ask the Department of Justice to be more aggressive in that, and we intend to.”
Jeff Sessions is a class act, and the best thing Trump currently has going for him in his administration.
A mistake on recusal may have been made, but I think it was a close call. Had Trump not fired Comey, there might not be a Special Counsel, so Sessions can’t be blamed alone for Trump’s predicament.DONATE
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