Trump doesn’t mention Sessions in military speech
President Trump on Thursday touted his plan to bolster defense spending and remake the U.S. military in a speech that made no mention of the controversy swirling around Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Speaking aboard a new aircraft supercarrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, Trump laid out a sweeping vision of expanding military might and reiterated his call, made in his first address to Congress earlier this week, to increase the country’s defense budget by $54 billion.
“We are going to have very soon the finest equipment in the world,” Trump said. “We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war, and if required to fight war and only to do one thing. You know what that is? Win. Win. We’re going to start winning again.”
In Washington, chaos and controversy mounted around revelations that Sessions twice spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign, despite his comments to the contrary during his Senate confirmation hearing.
The Washington Post first reported the development on Wednesday night. During a hearing on his nomination, then-Sen. Sessions said that he never communicated with Russian officials and dismissed accusations that other Trump campaign aides did so.
Democratic lawmakers are calling on Sessions to resign from the top law enforcement post.
Congressional Republicans have remained divided on the controversy. Some rushed to Sessions’s defense as others argued that the former Alabama senator should recuse himself from any investigation of Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Shortly before he spoke on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he has “total” confidence in Sessions. When asked if the attorney general should recuse himself from the Russia investigation, the president responded, “I don’t think so.”
Trump, sporting a U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford hat and Navy jacket, stayed on message during his speech, deriding past defense spending cuts and occasionally delving into U.S. naval history.
“You know, they just gave me this beautiful jacket. They said ‘here, Mr. President, please take this home.’ I said, ‘let me wear it,’ ” Trump said. “And then they gave me the beautiful hat. I said, ‘you know, maybe I’ll do that.’ ”
Trump has been working to prolong a recent bout of favorable press coverage in the wake of his Tuesday address to Congress, which received positive reviews across the media.