Mueller investigating whether Trump tried to oust Sessions: report
Special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating whether President Trump attempted to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his role last summer, according to a new report.
The Washington Post reports that Mueller’s team is now focusing on Trump’s private remarks and state of mind over the summer, when Trump was publicly slamming Sessions as “beleaguered” for not “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes.”
In a July interview, Trump blasted Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, saying it was “unfair” to him and that he would’ve likely picked another person to lead the Justice Department if he had known Sessions would recuse himself.
At the time, it was reported Trump was floating the possibility of replacing Sessions with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).
The Post reports that Trump was considering firing Sessions at the time, but was talked out of it by conservative lawmakers.
A person familiar with the Mueller investigation told the Post that those discussions are of interest to Mueller, and that his team have begun questioning witnesses about those events.
On Wednesday, Trump launched a new attack against Sessions, calling it “disgraceful” that he has asked an inspector general and not Justice Department lawyers to investigate potential surveillance abuses.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse,” Trump tweeted. “Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
Sessions later pushed back against Trump’s criticism, saying he would continue to carry out his duties at the Justice Department with “integrity and honor,” and pledged that complaints about the department would be “fully and fairly acted upon if necessary.”
Trump has long attacked Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe and has publicly pressured Sessions to investigate former President Obama and Democrats.
Trump also reportedly privately berated Sessions in an Oval Office meeting after Mueller was appointed, calling him an “idiot” and saying he should resign.
After the meeting, Sessions reportedly sent the White House a resignation letter, but Trump rejected it on the advice of aides.
The New York Times reported that Sessions later called the incident “the most humiliating experience in decades of public life.”
Updated at 7:45 p.m.