Trump’s swipes at Ses­sions per­sist

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­newed his at­tacks on At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions on Wed­nes­day, ques­tion­ing on Twit­ter why the top U.S. law en­force­ment of­fi­cial had not re­placed the act­ing FBI di­rec­tor — a move that Trump has the author­ity to do.

Trump has for days been at­tack­ing his at­tor­ney gen­eral, and he has sim­i­larly been crit­i­cal of An­drew McCabe, who took over as the act­ing di­rec­tor of the FBI af­ter Trump fired James Comey.

In two tweets just be­fore 10 a.m., Trump wrote: “Why didn’t A.G. Ses­sions re­place Act­ing FBI Di­rec­tor An­drew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clin­ton in­ves­ti­ga­tion but got big dol­lars ($700,000) for his wife’s po­lit­i­cal run from Hil­lary Clin­ton and her rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Drain the Swamp!”

But Ses­sions was not the at­tor­ney gen­eral dur­ing the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server. And the pres­i­dent him­self could re­move McCabe with­out Ses­sions. In­deed, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials con­tem­plated do­ing so af­ter Comey’s fir­ing. Ses­sions and Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein met with four other can­di­dates to lead the FBI on an in­terim ba­sis, though the ad­min­is­tra­tion ul­ti­mately stuck with McCabe.

The oth­ers who in­ter­viewed were Michael An­der­son, the spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago di­vi­sion; Adam Lee, the spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s Rich­mond di­vi­sion; Paul Ab­bate, the ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the FBI’s Crim­i­nal, Cy­ber, Re­sponse and Ser­vices Branch; and Wil­liam “Bill” Evan­ina, the na­tional coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence ex­ec­u­tive in the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence.

Asked dur­ing the White House news brief­ing Wed­nes­day why Trump hadn’t sim­ply re­moved McCabe him­self, spokesman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders noted that he had nom­i­nated Christo­pher Wray, a white-col­lar de­fense lawyer who had pre­vi­ously led the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s crim­i­nal di­vi­sion, to take the per­ma­nent FBI di­rec­tor job. She said Trump was “look­ing for­ward to get­ting him con­firmed soon.”

In re­cent days, Trump has talked with ad­vis­ers about re­plac­ing Ses­sions as his at­tor­ney gen­eral, and he has si­mul­ta­ne­ously crit­i­cized him in pub­lic. He has called Ses­sions “very weak” on in­ves­ti­gat­ing Clin­ton’s “crimes” and claimed he had not ag­gres­sively hunted those who have leaked in­tel­li­gence secrets since he has been in of­fice.

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have come to the de­fense of Ses­sions, pub­licly urg­ing Trump to back off his crit­i­cism of the at­tor­ney gen­eral.

In a brief in­ter­view Wed­nes­day, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., re­it­er­ated his pub­lic sup­port for Ses­sions, which came Tues­day when McCon­nell praised Ses­sions’ job per­for­mance and voiced sup­port for the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s re­cusal in the Rus­sian in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Arkansas’ two U.S. se­na­tors also have both ex­pressed sup­port for Ses­sions.

“He’s a good Chris­tian guy that’s work­ing hard to do the very best that he can do and I sup­port him fully. I can’t imag­ine any­body be­ing a bet­ter at­tor­ney gen­eral than Jeff Ses­sions,” U.S. Sen. John Booz­man said.

The Repub­li­can from Rogers also de­fended Ses­sions’ han­dling of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“He felt like he needed to re­cuse him­self be­cause he thought that was the right thing to do. I re­spect that,” Booz­man said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cot­ton, a Repub­li­can from Dar­danelle, stood by his for­mer col­league on Tues­day.

“Jeff Ses­sions is a good man and a fine At­tor­ney Gen­eral. Jeff is work­ing to keep our streets safe, se­cure our bor­ders and en­force our im­mi­gra­tion laws, and pro­tect our na­tion,” Cot­ton said in a writ­ten state­ment. In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Matt Zapo­to­sky, Devlin Bar­rett, Paul Kane, Philip Rucker and Jenna John­son of The Wash­ing­ton Post and by Frank E. Lock­wood of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette.

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