Holder: Sessions has weakened himself as attorney general by ‘taking what he has taken’

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials We can't allow presidents and public opinion to further diminish the work of the press Democrats sue over North Carolina's congressional maps MORE on Tuesday said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE’s rhetoric critical of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE has had a weakening “effect on the institution.” 

Holder, who served under former President Obama, said that he “could not have taken” attacks on him the way Sessions has taken attacks on the DOJ — and himself personally — by Trump, adding that he thinks the attorney general needs to push back.

“I could not have taken as much as he has taken. I think by taking what he has taken, he not only weakens himself as attorney general, it has an effect on the institution, and at some point, you have to say to the president, ‘no.’ You’ve got to respond to the president,” Holder said Tuesday night on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

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“These are extraordinary things. I’ve never seen a president talk to an attorney general in the way that this president has spoken to his attorney general. But I think you have to respond in extraordinary ways, always thinking about how you’re going to protect the institution,” he added.

Trump and his allies have piled on the DOJ and Sessions ever since the attorney general recused himself from overseeing any investigation of Trump’s presidential campaign, including the one being conducted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE to probe possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and obstruction of justice.

Trump has frequently lashed out at Sessions for the recusal. 

In a June tweet, the president said he would have "picked someone else” to be attorney general if he knew that Sessions would recuse himself.

“The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined...and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!” Trump tweeted in June.

Sessions has also been reported to be a target of Trump's ire behind the scenes.

Bob Woodward reported in his recently released book “Fear: Trump in the White House” that the president has mocked Sessions for his southern accent and called him “mentally retarded.”

Holder defended Sessions’s recusal, saying it was “the appropriate thing to do” and said the attorney general’s job is not to protect the president.

“I didn’t see my job as protecting the president, my job was to serve the people of the United States. But the other reality is I didn’t have to do anything to protect Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama praises marathon runners Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei for 'remarkable examples of humanity's ability' Each of us has a role in preventing veteran suicide Why calls for impeachment have become commonplace MORE, this president clearly thinks there are things he needs to be protected from and he wants his attorney general to do it, which is inappropriate,” he said.