President Trump lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an interview Wednesday, saying that he would have picked somebody else for attorney general if he had known that Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
“Sessions should have never recused himself and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told The New York Times.
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?” Trump said later in the interview, which reportedly lasted just under an hour.
“If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
Sessions recused himself in March following public scrutiny over his meeting with a Russian ambassador during the campaign.
Trump also knocked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who previously served as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” Trump said.
The president also said that Rosenstein has a “conflict of interest” because he recommended Trump fire then-FBI Director James Comey, before tapping Robert Mueller to serve as the special counsel in the Russia investigation. Mueller is reportedly investigating Trump’s firing of Comey as part of the Russia probe.
“Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”
Trump’s criticisms of Sessions is the latest indication that his relationship with the attorney general is on rocky ground.
Trump criticized the Department of Justice — which Sessions heads up — last month over the handling of Trump’s first travel ban, which was held up in court before being replaced by a similar, although narrower, travel ban.
The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
Sessions reportedly offered to resign last month following a particularly tense exchange with the president.