In a live televised phone interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning, President Donald J. Trump launched perhaps his strongest public criticism yet of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
When asked by Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade if there would have been a “Russia hoax” at all if current Attorney General Bill Barr had served as Trump’s first AG instead of Sessions, Trump left no doubt about his opinions on the subject.
“No, there wouldn’t be. [Barr] would’ve stopped it immediately,” Trump responded. “He would’ve seen it immediately.”
“Jeff Sessions was a disaster,” the president noted.
“I made him — I didn’t want to make him attorney general, but he was the first senator to endorse me,” Trump continued. “So I felt a little bit of an obligation. He came to see me four times, just begging me to be attorney general. He wasn’t, to me, equipped to be attorney general, but he just wanted it, wanted it, wanted it.”
“He was from a state that I love — Alabama,” the president added. “You know, I won Alabama by a tremendous margin.”
Turning back to Sessions, Trump advised, “He goes in, he was so bad at his [confirmation] proceedings. I should have gotten rid of him there.”
“Every time the word Russia — he knew less about Russia than I did,” Trump said. “He knew nothing about Russia. But they got him standing in a line with [Russian Ambassador] Kislyak… Kislyak had dinner with Nancy Pelosi and Schumer, all these guys they all, everybody in Washington knew Kislyak. She had dinner with him many, many times. And Jeff was just very weak and very sad. And when the [word] ‘Russia’ was mentioned, just the word ‘Russia,’ he immediately — instead of being a man and saying, ‘This is a hoax’ — he recused himself. And had a deputy named Rod Rosenstein who — probably, I mean you’ll see things coming out.”
Watch the full clip:
Trump has endorsed former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville over Sessions in Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race. The Republican primary runoff will be held July 14, determining who will face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.
UPDATE 1:00 p.m.
Sessions released a statement responding to Trump’s latest comments.
Session’s full statement as follows:
I have enormous appreciation for President Trump and all that he has done for our country. I will be voting for him this fall, and working hard to pass his agenda when I return to the Senate next year.
The specific law for the Department of Justice required that I recuse myself from the Russian collusion investigation. To not recuse myself from that investigation, of which I was a target as a senior campaign official and a witness, would have been breaking the law. I do not and will not break the law. On this matter, I agree with the late Tom Petty’s famous lyric – ‘you can stand me up to the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.’
I did the right thing for the country and for President Trump. If I, as a target of the investigation, had broken the law by not recusing myself, it would have been a catastrophe for the rule of law and for the President. The Democrats in Congress and the politically motivated bureaucrats all over Washington would have had a field day, alleging a Nixonian cover-up, and the President would not have been fully exonerated.
Let’s not forget, the notion that we on the Trump campaign colluded with Russia has been proven to be a complete hoax, and the President has been exonerated.
Finally, I never begged for the job of Attorney General, not 4 times, not 1 time, not ever. The President offered me the job, I took it, I stood up for the truth and performed at the highest levels. Doing the right thing is not weakness, it is strength. My foundation is built on rock, not sand.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn