U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hit back at President Donald Trump on Thursday after his boss delivered a scathing assessment of his oversight of the Justice Department in a television interview, saying Sessions has not taken control of the agency.
However, his comments come as the Justice Department this week secured a trial conviction and a guilty plea, respectively, from Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the President's longtime fixer, Michael Cohen. Jeff Sessions, never took control of the Justice Department.
The president asserted that "the Dems are very strong in the Justice Department - I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions".
Yet, he admitted given all that has gone on between Trump and Sessions, it is time for Sessions to leave his post. Never took control of the Justice Department.
With Trump acting as if he feels increasingly emboldened to remove Sessions, key GOP senators who have long supported Sessions like Lindsey Graham signaling they are okay with his dismissal, and Sessions for his part sharply criticizing Trump's attacks on him, the risk of a showdown that could blow up what is left of the Justice Department is growing by the day.
He said that instead, Sessions should have called for a special counsel to investigate how the Hillary Clinton email case was handled by the DOJ, and to "investigate the conduct of the people at senior levels" of the department. "He's frustrated. He thinks that this is a witch hunt".
A source close to Trump expressed doubt that Trump would fire Sessions before the elections but said Graham's view that Sessions could go after the voting is a likely scenario. A White House official said Sessions was not fired, and there was no resignation. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn't have done.
"He took the job and then he said, 'I'm going to recuse myself, '" Trump said.
The red line that Senate Republicans drew past year against President Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions is beginning to dissolve.
However, Trump told "Fox & Friends" he would "stay uninvolved" in department matters.
In recent weeks, sources say, the president has also warmed to the idea of including broad sentencing reforms in the Senate version -- such as reducing mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug offenses - a top priority of Iowa Sen. "Somebody that's qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will [be] time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice".
Trump told Fox News he respected Manafort for work he had done for prominent Republican politicians, adding that "some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does".
Has he considered firing Sessions?"He knows there was no collusion", Trump explained. "The administration remains focused on reducing crime, keeping communities safe and saving taxpayer dollars", White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. He attacked Cohen for agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors.
He called Wray, the current Federal Bureau of Investigation director, "an empty suit" and said Mueller and Comey, both former directors, are "so close [it's like] they came out of the same womb".
Asked about a possible replacement for Sessions, Grassley took a different position from a year ago, when he warned the White House he didn't have time to do another confirmation hearing that year.