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Trump again expresses regret for choosing Jeff Sessions as attorney general

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 5/30/2018 John Wagner
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Vide by CBS News

President Trump said Wednesday that he wished he had picked someone other than Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, renewing a slight of the former senator who recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

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In morning tweets, Trump quoted Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who during a Wednesday morning television interview on CBS voiced sympathy for Trump’s past expressions of frustration with Sessions’s recusal from the inquiry.

“If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too,” Gowdy said, according to Trump’s tweets. “There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!”

After that, Trump added, in his own voice: “And I wish I did!”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment about Trump’s assessment of Sessions. As president, Trump has the power to end Sessions’s employment at any time.

Sessions, one of Trump’s biggest boosters during the 2016 campaign, recused himself in March 2017 from any investigations related to the campaign. The announcement came a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions had twice met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.

Career lawyers at the Justice Department had advised Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, to step aside, citing ethics guidelines about impartiality and his role as a prominent Trump supporter.

Since then, Trump has repeatedly berated Sessions for his decision, at one point last summer calling it “very unfair” to him.

a man talking on a cell phone © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post The New York Times reported Tuesday night that Trump, during a meeting at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida shortly after Sessions’s announcement, lambasted Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, but Sessions refused.

Since that encounter, Trump has called Sessions “beleaguered,” among other derogatory terms, and questioned why the Justice Department has not been as aggressive about investigating Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as it has his campaign.

Associates have said that Trump believes that if Sessions had not recused himself, a special counsel never would have been appointed to investigate possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

Trump’s response to the inquiry also has raised the possibility of obstruction of justice charges, which special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after Sessions recused himself.

Trump’s tweets Wednesday come as he and his lawyers have been seeking to discredit Mueller’s investigation and have cast doubt on whether Trump will voluntarily submit to an interview by Mueller’s team.

On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said that he will not agree to an interview until prosecutors allow the president’s legal team to review documents related to the FBI’s use of a source to interact with members of Trump’s campaign.

In a separate television interview on Tuesday night, Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI was justified in using a secret informant to assist in the Russia investigation — an assessment at odds with Trump’s recent complaints that it amounted to illegal spying.

Gowdy attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week about the FBI’s use of the confidential source, identified as Stefan A. Halper, a former university professor.

Trump’s tweets Wednesday did not mention Gowdy’s comments about the informant.

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

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