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NYT's Schmidt: Trump 'views his attorney general as a protector'

The New York Times's Michael Schmidt told MSNBC Friday morning that President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE "views his attorney general as a protector."

"What we learned about is how the president views his attorney general," Schmidt, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times and MSNBC contributor, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

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"He views his attorney general as a protector, as someone there to be a buffer and safeguard. He had his White House counsel, his top lawyer, go to the attorney general in March and say, 'Look, don’t recuse yourself from the Russian investigation. There is no reason to do that.'"

"And then after the president found out he was going to recuse, he got extremely angry," he continued. "He said, you know, 'Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama: Voting rights bill must pass before next election The world's most passionate UFO skeptic versus the government Biden plans to host Obama for portrait unveiling that Trump skipped: report MORE had Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderObama: Voting rights bill must pass before next election NYC voters set to decide Vance's replacement amid Trump probe Obama planning first post-2020 fundraiser MORE, JFK had RFK. Where is my Roy Cohn?' referring to his long-term personal lawyer and saying, 'Where is this person to protect me?' And that, for us, really provided a window into how he viewed the top law enforcement position, the top person underneath him at a time that the Russia investigation was accelerating."

Schmidt's comments reference a report he published in The New York Times late Thursday, which focused on Trump's desire to stop Sessions from recusing himself in 2017. 

Last July, Trump had complained to Schmidt and fellow New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in an interview about the decision to recuse by Sessions that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel led by former FBI Director Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the reporters in a wide-ranging interview on June 19

Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos Garland strikes down Trump-era asylum decisions MORE takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president," he added. 

Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian collusion with Trump campaign associates shortly after the president fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom Trump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters MORE on May 17