Holder: Sessions needs to 'have the guts' to say no to Trump

Holder: Sessions needs to 'have the guts' to say no to Trump
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Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution MORE says that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRyan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' Conservatives moving to impeach Rosenstein soon: report Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families MORE needs to “have the guts” to say no to President TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE.

Holder criticized Sessions at an event at Georgetown University on Monday, days after Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeWhy does Congress keep playing political games on FBI oversight? FBI confidence in leaders sank after Comey was fired: report Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gets closed-door grilling from House Republicans MORE, who had been a subject of frequent criticism from Trump.

The former Obama administration official said Sessions may have rushed to fire McCabe at Trump’s request. The dismissal came just two days before McCabe was eligible for his pension.

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“It may be that at the end of the day … [McCabe's] termination is appropriate," Holder said. "But you know, you don’t rush that component of it to meet a deadline that I think the president essentially set.”

“You're the attorney general of the United States. You run the damn Justice Department. You know? And you’ve got to have the guts to look at the president every now and again and say 'no,'" he continued.

Holder had already criticized the Trump administration over McCabe’s firing over the weekend. McCade's ouster allegedly came after damning reports from the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of Inspector General.

Sessions fired McCabe on Friday, saying he hadn’t been fully honest with investigators and made an unauthorized disclosure to the media.

McCabe claims he was fired to try and undermine special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe into Russia's election interference, in which he could be a key witness.

Holder also criticized Trump for personally attacking McCabe, calling it ”unconscionable" and "punching down."

"You’re the president of the United States and you’re going after a career deputy FBI director ... who doesn’t really have the capacity to defend himself, certainly while he was in that position," he said.

—Gabriella Munoz contributed.