Trump Asked Sessions to Un-Recuse Himself from Russia Investigation

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, after he failed to disclose, and lied under oath about, having met multiple times with Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak. Donald Trump has been enraged about Sessions' decision ever since.

A year ago, there was so much friction between the two that Sessions reportedly offered to resign. Sessions remained on the job — where he remains to this day — but Trump began bitterly complaining, in public, about Sessions' decision to recuse himself.

In July of last year, during an interview with the New York Times, Trump complained:
Well, 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. ...So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. 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 can't, you know, I'm not going to take you." It's extremely unfair, and that's a mild word, to the president.

Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, "Why didn't you tell me this before?" I would have — then I said, "Who's your deputy?" So his deputy he hardly knew, and that's Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he's from Baltimore.
Trump also complained about Sessions on Twitter, as reports emerged about his privately berating Sessions for his recusal decision, and then Trump aired his grievances once again during a Rose Garden press conference:
I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself [from the Russia probe] almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that's a bad thing not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it's unfair to the presidency. And that's the way I feel.
Now, according to a report by Michael S. Schmidt and Julie Hirschfeld Davis at the New York Times, we find out that all of the above was preceded by Trump giving Sessions the silent treatment and refusing to take his calls, forcing Sessions to fly down to Mar-a-Lago (on the taxpayers' dime), where Trump "objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request."

Sessions refused. But Special Counsel Bob Mueller somehow found out about the exchange, and is now investigating.
The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president's public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

The special counsel's interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions's overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president's interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions.

Investigators have pressed current and former White House officials about Mr. Trump's treatment of Mr. Sessions and whether they believe the president was trying to impede the Russia investigation by pressuring him. The attorney general was also interviewed at length by Mr. Mueller's investigators in January. And of the four dozen or so questions Mr. Mueller wants to ask Mr. Trump, eight relate to Mr. Sessions. Among them: What efforts did you make to try to get him to reverse his recusal?
To be clear: Trump's campaign to bully Sessions into un-recusing himself from the Russia investigation is being (quite rightly) regarded by investigators as another possible attempt to obstruct justice.

Trump, naturally, is doubling-down.

This morning, Rep. Trey Gowdy appeared on CBS This Morning, where he attempted to justify Trump's badgering of Sessions as "expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward." He added that "there are lots of really good lawyers in the country," and Trump "could have picked somebody else."

Which prompted Trump to tweet:

Trump wishes he had chosen someone else as his Attorney General — because Jeff Sessions, who has been one of the loyalist of all the loyal lapdogs in Trump's kennel, still hasn't been loyal enough, owing to his decision to demonstrate an infinitesimal trace of ethics and show a modicum of respect for the rule of law.

Even that was far too much for the lawless authoritarian Trump.

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