President Trump said on Wednesday that he wished he’d hired a lawyer other than Jeff Sessions to head the Justice Department, reflecting his lingering anger at his attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation last year.
In a series of morning tweets, Trump quoted televised comments from Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who leads the House’s government oversight committee, suggesting Trump had a right to be frustrated with Sessions’ handling of the recusal.
“’There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!’” Trump tweeted, quoting Gowdy.
“And I wish I did!” Trump added in his own words.
The president has aired his frustration with Sessions’ recusal before, suggesting he wanted a loyalist atop the Justice Department to protect him from the Russia investigation. His latest protest, however, follows a New York Times report Tuesday night that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating Trump’s effort early in his presidency to get Sessions to reverse his recusal decision days after Sessions made the announcement. The men’s meeting on the matter in March 2017 hadn’t been previously reported.
Sessions recused himself from the investigation into possible Trump campaign cooperation with Russia’s election interference, citing Justice Department policy governing potential conflicts of interest given Sessions’ role in the Trump campaign. Numerous legal experts from both parties have said he had no other choice.
The issue has long created friction between Trump and Sessions, who as a senator from Alabama had been one of Trump’s first and most loyal campaign supporters, the only Republican senator to endorse him until late in the campaign.
Rep.Trey Gowdy, “I don’t think so, 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....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
....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...and that’s how I read that - Senator Sessions, why didn’t you tell me before I picked you.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
....There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” And I wish I did!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018