White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that President Trump is “very disappointed” by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE's decision to recuse himself from investigations pertaining to Russia.
“I think the president has been extremely clear about his position, I know I’ve answered this question a number of times over the last week,” Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. “He’s very disappointed that Attorney General Sessions chose to recuse himself, and there’s not much more to add.”
Trump has increasingly gone public with his frustrations with Sessions, highlighting a division between the president and one of his most loyal and longtime supporters.
Trump made news last week in an interview with the New York Times, saying that he never would have tapped Sessions for attorney general if he knew that he’d recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Sessions’s recusal paved the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to tap former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to Trump campaign officials.
On Monday, Trump tweeted his frustration that his “beleaguered” attorney general was not investigating his Democratic presidential rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE for “crimes” and alleged ties to the Russian government.
“I think [Trump] hopes the Justice Department would look into any potential area where the law could have been broke, and if they think there’s a possibility of that then certainly they should take a look,” Sanders said.
Trump’s criticism of Sessions could open up fissures within his own White House. Chief strategist Stephen Bannon deeply admires Sessions and considered him a potential presidential candidate before Trump got into the race.
Trump’s senior policy adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller worked for Sessions’s Senate office.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have rushed to defend Sessions in the latest split between the GOP-controlled Congress and the White House.
“I think Jeff Sessions has been and will continue to be an excellent attorney general,” Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), an early Trump supporter, told The Hill last week. “I don’t expect Jeff Sessions to resign; I would not want him to resign.”
Trump’s public statements have ignited speculation that he is preparing to replace Sessions. Axios reported Monday that Trump is considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), although Giuliani has denied the report.