Administration

Spicer refuses to say if Trump has confidence in Sessions

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The White House on Tuesday refused to say whether President Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, raising questions about his standing in the administration.  

Amid reports that Trump is upset with Sessions, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked if the president still backs his top law enforcement official. 

“I have not had a discussion with him about that,” Spicer responded.

{mosads}Pressed for an answer by a reporter who said the response did not bode well for Sessions, the spokesman said, “If I have not had a discussion with him, I tend not to comment on it.” 

Spicer’s comments came after The New York Times reported that Trump has privately criticized Sessions for his handling of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, as well as the immigration executive order. 

Trump’s frustration showed through on Monday morning, when he slammed the Justice Department for authoring a “watered down, politically correct version” of his travel ban — even though he personally signed off on it.  

“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.,” Trump tweeted.

The president is also said to be angry about Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russian officials, which is now led by special counsel Robert Mueller.  

Sessions’s recusal came in March, after it came to light that he failed, while testifying under oath, to disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Spicer’s comments Monday were striking, especially since Sessions was one of Trump’s most vocal supporters during last year’s campaign.  

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. 

The exchange also renewed questions about Spicer’s ability to speak for the president. It was the second high-profile instance in the past week in which he said he was unable to describe Trump’s views.  

Last Tuesday, Spicer would not say whether Trump believes human activity causes climate change.

“Honestly, I haven’t asked him that,” the spokesman said. “I can get back to you.” 

Spicer was asked again Friday after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, but he still did not have an answer.  

“I have not had the opportunity to specifically talk to the president about that,” he said.

The spokesman on Tuesday pointed to Trump’s own statements, including those written on his often-controversial Twitter account, as the most accurate source of his views. 

“The president is the president of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the president of the United States,” Spicer said of the tweets.  

Spicer last month refused to say whether Trump had confidence in FBI Director James Comey, just hours before Trump fired him. 

But Trump has a much closer relationship with Sessions than he ever did with Comey. 

The former Alabama senator was the first sitting member of the upper chamber to endorse him for president and was a frequent surrogate and sounding board for Trump during the 2016 campaign.

– This story was updated at 7:33 p.m. 

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