President’s lashing of Sessions another blow to attorney general
he said. “I’d like to let it run itself. But honestly, they should be looking at Democrats . ... They should be looking at a lot of things, and a lot of people are disappointed with the Justice Department, including me.”
Two White House officials quickly cautioned against reading too much into Trump’s comments, reiterating that he has no plans to fire Sessions. And although the White House maintains that Trump’s tweets are “official record,” it says Trump has not ordered Sessions or the FBI to do anything related to Democrats.
Trump issued a flurry of tweets over a 3½-hour span Friday urging the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.
Trump’s accusations follow publication by Politico of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof ” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor.
“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems ...” Trump tweeted.
The aides said the tweets were a media savvy way to deflect attention from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, who also had a role in the campaign, were indicted on 12 counts, and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about his dealings with Russians who were offering “dirt” on Clinton.
Sessions has become a scapegoat for Trump’s anger, allowing the president to avoid some of the political consequences of directly attacking the special counsel.
But the president’s lashing was another blow to the attorney general, and came amid calls for him to return to Congress to explain why he said earlier this year he was unaware of information exchanges between Trump’s campaign and intermediaries for the Russian government.
Papadopoulos admitted he told Sessions at a March 2016 meeting he had made contacts with Russians who said they could set up a meeting between Trump and President Vladimir Putin. Sessions quickly dismissed the idea and said he’d prefer no one ever speak about it, according to one person who was there, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share the private conversation.
Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are now asking Sessions to follow up.