Donald Trump rages at his attorney general over Russia meddling probe
President Donald Trump has said he would never have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general had he known he would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.
In an extraordinary denouncement of one of his earliest backers in Washington, Mr Trump said Mr Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to Russia was "very unfair to the president".
Mr Trump told The New York Times: "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."
The recusal, announced following revelations that he had failed to disclose meetings with Russia's ambassador to the US, effectively paved the way for the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
Mr Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and potential ties between the Russian government and Trump campaign aides has cast a growing cloud on the White House.
In the interview, Mr Trump also appeared to threaten Mr Mueller, suggesting he had damaging information on the former FBI director.
Mr Trump said Mr Mueller's selection for the job was a conflict of interest because the president had interviewed him to serve as the replacement FBI director.
"There were many other conflicts that I haven't said, but I will at some point," Mr Trump said.
He hurled similar conflict of interest charges at acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
And he accused former FBI director James Comey of briefing him on a dossier of unverified, incriminating information in an effort to gain leverage over the soon-to-be president.
Mr Trump also addressed the previously undisclosed conversation he had with President Vladimir Putin of Russia during a dinner for world leaders at the G20 summit in Germany.
Mr Trump said the pair spoke for about 15 minutes at the dinner and that the conversation consisted of "pleasantries more than anything else" - though he added that he and Mr Putin also discussed adoption.
Russia had banned Americans from adopting Russian children in response to the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress in 2012, which allowed the US to impose sanctions on Russians deemed as human rights violators.
It is the same topic Mr Trump's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, says he discussed with a Russian lawyer at a meeting that has drawn intense scrutiny - a coincidence the president described in the interview as "interesting".