The White House insisted Thursday that President Trump had confidence in Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated that the president is "disappointed" with the top Justice Department official's decision to recuse himself from Russia-related matters.
"Clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general," Sanders told reporters at an off-camera briefing.
Asked why Trump has confidence in Sessions, given the criticisms he voiced in a wide-ranging New York Times interview on Wednesday, Sanders said the president believes the Department of Justice has made progress on immigration and against gangs such as MS-13.
Trump told The New York Times he wouldn’t have hired Sessions had he know that he would step aside from the Russia probe — a shocking criticism that suggested a dramatic breakdown in their relationship and ignited speculation that Sessions might resign.
Sanders said Trump and Sessions had not spoken in the past 24 hours.
She also denied that Trump was making a de facto threat to special counsel Robert Mueller when he suggested in the Times interview that any investigation into his family's finances would constitute the crossing of a red line.
Sanders suggested the president was merely emphasizing that "the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation."
More broadly, Sanders added, "the president is frustrated by the continued witch hunt" of the Russia investigation."
Jordan Fabian contributed.