Ever since Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to recuse himself from overseeing the DOJ’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia back in the Spring of 2017 – a decision that set the stage for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller – President Trump has subjected his AG to an unceasing wave of public abuse and belittling comments, all the while suggesting that Sessions might soon be cut loose thanks to his immense disloyalty to his boss.
But Trump outdid himself on Wednesday during a freewheeling interview with the Hill where he declared that “I don’t have an attorney general” and added that he’s “not happy” with Sessions’ performance on a number of fronts beyond the Russia probe.
Trump went on to speculate that Sessions’ “very poor” performance during the nominating process went on to impact his performance as attorney general. Though Trump said Sessions’ performance is especially disappointing in light of the senator’s early support of the Trump campaign.
“I’m not happy at the border, I’m not happy with numerous things, not just this,” he said.
Trump suggested he had a personal blind spot when it came to nominating Sessions as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
“I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first Senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be Attorney General, and I didn’t see it,” he said.
“And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly. I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him.”
The president suggested Sessions’ experience going through the nominating process in the Senate may have impacted his performance at attorney general.
“He gets in and probably because of the experience that he had going through the nominating when somebody asked him the first question about Hillary Clinton or something he said ‘I recuse myself, I recuse myself,'” Trump said.
“And now it turned out he didn’t have to recuse himself. Actually, the FBI reported shortly thereafter any reason for him to recuse himself. And it’s very sad what happened.”
Shifting from Sessions to the much-maligned FBI, Trump said the agency was “a cancer” and that uncovering deep-seated corruption in the FBI may be remembered as the “crowning achievement” of his administration, per the Hill.
“What we’ve done is a great service to the country, really,” Trump said in a 45-minute, wide-ranging interview in the Oval Office.
“I hope to be able put this up as one of my crowning achievements that I was able to … expose something that is truly a cancer in our country.”
Moreover, Trump insisted that he never trusted former FBI Director James Comey, and that he had initially planned to fire Comey shortly after the inauguration, but had been talked out of it by his aides.
Trump also said he regretted not firing former FBI Director James Comey immediately instead of waiting until May 2017, confirming an account his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave Hill.TV earlier in the day that Trump was dismayed in 2016 by the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton email case and began discussing firing him well before he became president.
“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”
The FISA Court judges who approved the initial requests allowing the FBI to surveil employees of the Trump Campaign also came in for some criticism, with Trump claiming they used “poor Carter Page, who nobody even knew, and who I feel very badly for…as a foil…to surveil a candidate or the presidency of the United States.” Trump added that he felt the judges had been “misled” by the FBI.
He criticizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court’s approval of the warrant that authorized surveillance of Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign aide, toward the end of the 2016 election, suggesting the FBI misled the court.
“They know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew, who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly. They used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States.”
As for the judges on the secret intelligence court: “It looks to me just based on your reporting, that they have been misled,” the president said, citing a series of columns in The Hill newspaper identifying shortcomings in the FBI investigation. “I mean I don’t think we have to go much further than to say that they’ve been misled.”
“One of the things I’m disappointed in is that the judges in FISA didn’t, don’t seem to have done anything about it. I’m very disappointed in that Now, I may be wrong because, maybe as we sit here and talk, maybe they’re well into it. We just don’t know that because I purposely have not chosen to get involved,” Trump said.
Trump continued the assault on Sessions during a brief conference with reporters Wednesday morning. When asked whether he was planning to fire Sessions, Trump replied that “we’re looking into lots of different things.”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 19, 2018
To be sure, Sessions has managed to hang on thus far. And if he can somehow manage to survive past Nov. 6, his fate will perversely rest on the Democrats’ success. Basically, if they wrest back control of the Senate (which, to be sure, is unlikely), Sessions chances of staying on would rise dramatically. But then again, how much abuse can a man realistically endure before he decides that the costs of staying outweigh the benefits of leaving?