Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged Tuesday what every reader of President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed already knows: Trump’s not happy with his top lawman.
At a Justice Department news conference to announce a crackdown on a Mexican drug cartel, Sessions was asked about the president’s comment in a recent “60 Minutes” interview that he was “very disappointed” with the attorney general.
“The president speaks his mind. He says what’s on his mind at the time,” Sessions said. “He’s been frustrated about my recusal and other matters, but we have been so pleased and honored to be given the responsibility to execute his agenda at the Department of Justice. Part of that is just this kind of case.”
Trump was infuriated by Sessions’ decision in March 2017 to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian influence on the Trump campaign. The president has repeatedly said Sessions should have informed him before the nomination that he would recuse himself.
Sessions rarely discusses the criticism in public, even though Trump doesn’t hold back on the subject on his Twitter feed or when asked by reporters.
Pressed on Tuesday about whether the president ever pressured him to resign, Sessions never answered directly.
“Uh, I think…,” the attorney general said awkwardly, before looking to another journalist for a question.
Sessions also fielded queries on Tuesday about the disappearance and presumed killing of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The attorney general condemned the apparent killing and linked it to a spate of violence against journalists in other countries.
“It is a big deal. It is an unacceptable trend,” Sessions said. “Mexico may have had in the last several years the greatest number of attacks on journalists, murders of journalists. … Probably, the world has not reacted sufficiently to it. The world will be diminished if journalists are not able to go travel and report honestly on conditions in differing countries, or people in their own country can’t report on corruption or crime or misconduct in their countries, so, I think it can even separate countries from the civilized community.”
“I feel strongly about it. The president feels strongly about it and we at the Department of Justice will do what we can,” the attorney general added.
Sessions was vague, however, about what role U.S. law enforcement would or could play in the investigation. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident, but not a U.S. citizen, at the time of his disappearance.
Asked about potential involvement by the FBI in the investigation, the attorney general said: “It’s a matter that’s being given serious evaluation. The FBI understands its responsibilities. I’m not able to comment on any details on what might have occurred.”