Trump’s relationships with his own appointees have been fraught with tension and anger; after all, this is a president who once publicly challenged his own secretary of state to an IQ test duel. His relationship with his own head of the Justice Department, however, has been especially contentious.
The two men first began to clash when Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Since Trump’s campaign team is also accused of colluding with Russian government operatives in order to upend democracy and steal an election, Sessions’s lies about meeting with some of the Russians involved were heavily scrutinized during his confirmation hearing.
The Associated Press reports that the relationship became even more strained after Trump’s endorsed Senate candidate, Roy Moore, lost the GOP a seat in Congress.
‘Trump bemoaned the Republicans’ loss in a special election in Alabama and in part blamed Sessions, whose departure from the Senate to head to Justice necessitated the election.’
Trump chose Sessions as his attorney general despite public outcry against a man who has often been viewed as an unrepentant racist. No one forced Trump to appoint Sessions, who was a vocal supporter of Trump’s during the campaigns, and no one forced Trump to back the mediocre Luther Strange (who lost the GOP primary) or to endorse Roy Moore (the alleged pedophile who won the GOP nomination only to lose to a Democrat in a ruby-red state). Trump has serious issues with accepting responsibility for much of anything, but his anger at Sessions on this point really goes beyond the pale.
The AP detailed a history of Trump’s fury at Sessions over the past year, including his tweets in which he criticized the “beleaguered” attorney general.
‘Trump blasted Sessions, once one of his closest allies, for recusing himself from the Russia probe, believing that helped lead to Mueller’s appointment.
‘Trump continued his assault in a series of tweets in which he called Sessions “weak” and “beleaguered.” Privately, he discussed firing Sessions, but was met with a wave of resistance from his advisers. Some warned it would worsen the Russia probe, while Bannon told the president it would hurt with his base supporters, who loved Sessions’ tough-on-crime approach at the Justice Department.
‘Kelly, in his first weekend on the job, called Sessions to assure him his position was safe. But the rift between Trump and Sessions still has not healed.’
The relationship became so strained in July that Sessions reportedly offered to resign if the president was not going to allow him to do his job.
‘The situation between Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump has grown so tense that the attorney general told Mr. Trump in recent weeks that he needed the freedom to do his job and that he could resign if that was what was wanted, according to the two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House matters. Mr. Trump did not take him up on the offer.’
Sessions’s recusal has caused a lot of problems for the president since it limits his powers to end the probe into the alleged Russian collusion scandal that could take down his presidency. Apparently, Sessions will feel the brunt of that anger for however long Trump remains in office and under investigation.
Featured image via Getty/Tasos Katopodis