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White House won’t say if Trump still has confidence in Attorney General Sessions

Trump reportedly holds Sessions responsible for the special counsel investigating alleged collusion with Russia.

CREDIT: CNN screengrab
CREDIT: CNN screengrab

The day after the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump “has grown sour” on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Press Secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t confirm that the president still has confidence in the man leading his Justice Department.

Asked by CBS’ Major Garrett to “describe the president’s level of confidence in the attorney general,” Spicer demurred.

“I have not have a discussion with him about that,” Spicer said. Pressed by reporters for clarification, he added, “If I haven’t had a discussion with him about a subject, I tend not to speak about it.”

The Times reported that Trump “has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.”

After it became known that Sessions had misled Congress regarding his communications with Russian officials during the presidential campaign, he announced that he had “decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States” in early March.

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But in May, Sessions broke that promise by recommending that Trump fire then-FBI Director James Comey, despite the fact Comey was overseeing the bureau’s active investigation into allegations the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government. Since then, it’s also emerged that Sessions failed to disclose his meetings with Russian officials on a security clearance application he filed ahead of becoming attorney general.

In addition to the Times’ report about Trump’s private fuming, the president’s discontent was publicly visible on Monday. In a tweetstorm, Trump lashed out at the Justice Department for the fact his proposed Muslim ban is currently held up in federal court. He also undercut White House messaging by calling it for what it is — a “TRAVEL BAN!”

Spicer’s comments on Tuesday about Sessions were reminiscent of what he said when asked about the president’s confidence in acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe during a news conference on May 12 — the day after McCabe contradicted a number of the administration’s talking points about Comey’s firing during sworn testimony.

“I have not asked [Trump] about the deputy,” Spicer said during that May 12 news conference. “I’ve not asked him — generally I don’t go through the list of government employees and ask him, so I have not asked him specifically about that.”