Malaysiakini News

'Time will tell' the fate of 'beleaguered’ AG, says Trump

Anne K Walters, dpa  |  Published:  |  Modified:

US President Donald Trump declined to directly answer on Tuesday whether he intends to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, expressing disappointment in his top law enforcement official and saying only that "time will tell" what happens.

Trump reiterated his disappointment in Sessions' decision to remove himself from involvement in an investigation on Russian interference in the presidential election and stressed he "would have quite simply picked somebody else" had he known the former senator would do so.

He described the move as bad not for himself as president, but for the office of the presidency.

"I am very disappointed in the attorney general, but we will see what happens, time will tell," Trump said at a press conference after talks with the Lebanese prime minister.

He also pointed to concerns about the Justice Department's handling of intelligence agency leaks and said Sessions had not done enough to stop them.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump had continued his public criticism of Sessions online, heightening speculation of an imminent ouster.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & [Democratic National Committee] server) & Intel leakers!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

It was a second day of tweets reviving a frequent theme of his campaign against Hillary Clinton, while going after Sessions for not opening an investigation into his former electoral opponent.

Trump had previously backed away from the campaign rhetoric against Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Former FBI director James Comey had recommended last year against prosecuting Clinton in the case.

The rare public criticism by a president of a sitting attorney general has led to speculation that Sessions could soon be either fired or resign, and that Trump could look for ways to derail a special counsel leading the investigation into Russian election meddling.

In a Monday tweet, Trump himself called Sessions "beleaguered."

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci acknowledged in a radio interview that it was "probably" true that Trump wants to oust Sessions, calling the president "obviously frustrated" and noting that the men need to work out their issues.

Two potential replacements for Sessions, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Senator Ted Cruz, have both dismissed the speculation and praised Sessions.

Trump's tweets were also denounced as inappropriate by fellow Republicans.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a frequent Republican critic of Trump, said that Sessions "understands that we are a nation of laws, not men" and denounced as "highly inappropriate" the president's suggestion that Sessions should prosecute Clinton.

"Prosecutorial decisions should be based on applying facts to the law without hint of political motivation," he said. "To do otherwise is to run away from the long-standing American tradition of separating the law from politics regardless of party."

But Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, noted that it was up to Trump to make his own decisions about personnel.

Sessions said on Thursday that he would continue in his post despite Trump saying that, in retrospect, he "would have picked somebody else."

- dpa

Will Trump fire AG Sessions and special counsel Mueller?

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