Tuesday 12 November 2019

Sessions digs in after scathing attack by Trump

President Donald Trump holds a Channellock tool engraved with his name and ‘Make America Great Again’ during a meeting with US company representatives in the East Room of the White House. Photo: Michael Reynolds/Getty Images
President Donald Trump holds a Channellock tool engraved with his name and ‘Make America Great Again’ during a meeting with US company representatives in the East Room of the White House. Photo: Michael Reynolds/Getty Images

Nick Allen Washington

US President Donald Trump went to war with his own attorney general, excoriating Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into links between the president's campaign and Russia.

Mr Sessions, America's top prosecutor, said he had no immediate plans to resign following the blistering public rebuke.

Donald Trump and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. PHoto: Getty Images
Donald Trump and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. PHoto: Getty Images

He said: "We love this job, we love this Justice Department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate."

Mr Sessions was flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who were both also criticised by the president in an interview with the 'New York Times'.

The Republican president noted Mr Rosenstein's roots in Democratic Baltimore and that Mr McCabe's wife took money from a leading Democrat during a political campaign.

Mr Sessions was the first US senator to support Mr Trump's then unlikely bid for the White House last year, and became one of his most ardent supporters.

He removed himself from the Justice Department's Russia inquiry four months ago after it emerged he had failed to disclose his own encounters with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. Ultimately, that led to the appointment of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to lead the probe.

In an extended interview with the 'Times', Mr Trump said: "Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. It's extremely unfair - and that's a mild word - to the president.

"If he would have recused himself before taking the job, I would have said 'Thanks Jeff, but I'm not going to take you'."

Mr Trump also raised the prospect that he could fire Mr Mueller, insinuating there were conflicts of interest in his position. He said: "There were many other conflicts that I haven't said, but I will at some point," and also warned Mr Mueller not to extend the inquiry to include the Trump family's finances, calling that a "violation".

He also criticised Mr Sessions's testimony during Senate confirmation hearings when the attorney general said he had not had "communications with the Russians", despite having met ambassador Mr Kislyak twice.

"Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers," Mr Trump said. "He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren't."

Mr Rosenstein, asked yesterday about Mr Trump's remarks that there were very few Republicans in Baltimore, declined to comment. "I was proud to be here yesterday, I'm proud to be here today, I'll be proud to work here tomorrow," he said.

Also, Mr Trump also refused to commit to a state visit to the UK. He was invited by Prime Minister Theresa May in January but no plans have materialised. There has been speculation that he wants to postpone his visit until he can be assured of a warm reception, and that he asked Mrs May to "fix" that.

Asked "Will you go to Britain?" Mr Trump said: "Ah, they've asked me", before moving on to heap praise on Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who he visited a week ago. Mr Trump said he went to France after Mr Macron told him: "They love you in France".

The president added: "He [Macron] is a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand. People don't realise he loves holding my hand. And that's good, as far as that goes."

Mr Trump denied reports of a "secret" meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Hamburg two weeks ago, saying the two exchanged "pleasantries" for 15 minutes over dessert at a meal for world leaders. Mr Trump said: "I actually talked about Russian adoption with him."

"Adoption" was also discussed at a meeting between Mr Trump's son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer in June 2016.

The three men are all due to testify next week in front of a Senate committee investigating Russian links.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has decided to halt a covert CIA programme to arm and train rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, a move Russia has long pushed for.

The programme had been established by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama in 2013 to put pressure on Mr Assad to relinquish power.

Mr Trump hinted before coming to office that he would abandon support for the opposition, instead concentrating US efforts on "annihilating" Isil.

But the revelation comes days after Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Putin, who backs the Syrian regime. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News