Grassley now 'nonchalant about defending Sessions' if Trump moves to replace him

Grassley now 'nonchalant about defending Sessions' if Trump moves to replace him
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday MORE (R-Iowa) says he is now less attached to defending Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLisa Page sues DOJ, FBI over alleged privacy violations Sessions leads GOP Senate primary field in Alabama, internal poll shows Trump rebukes FBI chief Wray over inspector general's Russia inquiry MORE if President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE moves to replace him.

"The answer that I gave a year ago was directed directly at the president that I honestly didn’t have time to consider anything else. It was also somewhat of a defense of Sessions,” Grassley told the Washington Examiner in an interview published Monday, referencing comments he made last year that he did not have time to confirm a replacement.

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“Now, I’m kind of nonchalant about defending Sessions," he said. "I like him very much personally, and I want him to be a good attorney general, but the president’s got a right to have somebody in there he wanted.”

Grassley told the Examiner he had time on his calendar to consider replacements, adding, "I’m not just saying that not just about Sessions. I got time [for anything].”

Grassley made similar statements in August, according to Bloomberg, saying, "I do have time for hearings on nominees that the president might send up here that I didn’t have last year."

Sessions and Grassley publicly clashed over the senator's efforts to pass criminal justice reform that's opposed by the attorney general. A vote on the legislation has been postponed until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

However, Grassley got a boost earlier this month when Trump said he would overrule Sessions on the prison overhaul.

"We haven’t had a sit down conversation about reform,” Grassley told the Examiner. “But we’ve got the president saying he doesn’t care what Sessions thinks about criminal justice reform.”

“If the president wants to be for it, he’s going to run over him," Grassley said.