Stating the relationship between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump has become strained is putting it lightly. Many are increasingly speculating that Sessions’ time in the administration is running out. In multiple interviews and on Twitter rants, the president has belittled his own picked attorney general for recusing himself from any oversight of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election.
The most shocking aspect about the deteriorating relationship between the two former colleagues is how far back their relationship stems. Sessions was the first senator to throw his support behind Trump.
The Hill provides a distinct timeline between Trump and Sessions:
Aug. 21, 2015: Sessions spoke at a Trump rally in the attorney general’s hometown of Mobile, Ala. to welcome the future president and thank him for his work on immigration, giving him a boost of early GOP support:
“I’m really impressed with your plan. I know it will make a difference and this crowd shows a lot of people agree with that. Congratulations.”
Trump remarked Sessions as “so great” and claimed he was “such a help.”
Feb. 28, 2016: Sessions became Trump’s first public political endorser from the Senate, telling a crowd of about 32,000 in Alabama:
“I told Donald Trump, this isn’t a campaign, this a movement. I believe that the movement is afoot — that must not fade away. It has the potential to have the American people’s voices heard for a change.”
July 18, 2016: Sessions gave a strong speech at the Republican National Convention for the future president, calling Trump “a leader who will bring change,” stating:
“He has the strength, the courage and the will to get it done. He is attracting more and more Independents and Democrats through our movement. Donald Trump will kill Obama trade. Donald Trump will build the wall and Donald Trump will make American great again.”
Nov. 18, 2016: President-elect Trump nominates Sessions to be attorney general.
Feb. 9, 2017: Sessions is sworn in as attorney general just one day following a 52-47 confirmation vote. Trump says Sessions “will be a great protector of the people,” stating:
“He’s trained better for it than anybody else. The level of respect that he has throughout this country as a former prosecutor, not even to mention being a long-time U.S. senator, is absolutely incredible.”
Feb. 11, 2017: Trump announces in an executive order that Sessions will create and lead a task force on violent crime.
March 2, 2017: Sessions recuses himself from the Russian probe. The recusal coincided with The Washington Post reporting that he had conversations with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, which were not disclosed to the Senate.
Following the recusal, Trump defended Sessions, saying he has “total” confidence in him, though states he wasn’t “wasn’t aware” of Sessions’ conversations with Kislyak, but that Sessions “probably did” speak truthfully to the Senate under oath.
March 4, 2017: Trump initiates his first jab at Sessions over the Kislyak news, saying that as a nominee, “he could have stated his response more accurately.” The New York Times, citing associated people who spoke with the president, reported that Trump was irritated that Sessions was not more thorough or careful in his answering of the questions, which were under oath.
June 5, 2017: Trump lambasted the Justice Department in a series of tweets for offering a “watered down” version of his immigration executive order initially blocked by the courts. He claims the DOJ should have stuck with his original executive action, instead of caving in to the one that was submitted to the Supreme Court.
July 19, 2017: In his controversial interview with The New York Times, after slamming the organization as a producer of fake news, Trump said he never would have appointed Sessions to be the attorney general if he had known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation:
“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. Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
July 22, 2017: Trump posts a tweet claiming, “so many people are asking” why neither Sessions nor special counsel Robert Mueller are looking into the “many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes.”
July 24, 2017: In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said he’s “very disappointed” with Sessions.
However, he does not go as far to say that he will fire him: “I’m just looking at it. I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”
Trump further added criticism by slightly ridiculing Sessions’s early endorsement of his campaign, claiming it “wasn’t a great loyal thing” and says of Alabama:
“I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”
July 25, 2017: Trump tweets about Sessions’s position on Hillary Clinton’s crimes, calling it “VERY weak.”
July 26, 2017: Trump continues to vent his frustrations with Sessions on Twitter, questioning why he didn’t fire acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe:
“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got… big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!”
Meanwhile, Sessions has accomplished a flurry of DOJ wins, such as their work with an ATM criminal, combatting MS-13 gangs in the U.S., the indictment of a Russian national, the bust of a Crips gang banger, and eliminating the status and protections of sanctuary cities within the U.S.
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Lindsey Graham responds to possibility of moving Sessions to DHS