By Jenna Johnson and William Branigin,
President Trump launched another public assault Tuesday morning on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, questioning why the Justice Department chief has not done more to investigate alleged “crimes” by Hillary Clinton and those who have leaked information to the media.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted at 6:12 a.m. from his personal account, his second Twitter message of the morning.
The tweet was one in a series, and it continued the president’s public attacks on Sessions, whose job appears to be in jeopardy. Sessions, a Republican former senator from Alabama, supported Trump from the early days of his candidacy and became one of the real estate magnate’s most trusted advisers. But he fell out of favor with the president when he recused himself in March from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, including probes of Russian interference in the electoral process, on grounds that he had been involved in the campaign.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Trump’s tweets Tuesday morning.
Trump said in an interview with the New York Times last week that he would not have appointed Sessions to the position if he knew Sessions would recuse himself.
In his first tweet Tuesday morning, Trump wrote about Hillary Clinton: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – ‘quietly working to boost Clinton.’ So where is the investigation A.G.”
Trump seemed to be referring to reports that during the election, the Democratic National Committee hired a Ukrainian American Democratic operative, Alexandra Chalupa, to mobilize ethnic communities, including Ukrainian Americans. In 2014, Chalupa had investigated the role that Paul Manafort, who went on to become Trump’s campaign chairman, played in the rise of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
After leaving the campaign in July 2016, Chalupa continued her research. Politico reported that Chalupa said she sometimes shared her findings with officials at the DNC and Clinton’s campaign, but campaign officials said they never received information. The White House has tried to compare this arrangement with the communication that the Trump campaign had with Russians during and after the campaign.
At 6:21 a.m., Trump followed up with another tweet that took aim at the acting director of the FBI: “Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!”
When McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, was running as a Democrat for a state Senate seat in Virginia in 2015, she received campaign donations totaling about $700,000 from a political action committee affiliated with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a longtime Clinton family friend, and from the Virginia Democratic Party.
After Jill McCabe lost that race, her husband was put in charge of overseeing the bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, and critics questioned his objectivity. Former FBI director James B. Comey has testified that Trump mentioned McCabe as he sought Comey’s loyalty.
Trump then took a break from tweeting about the Russia investigation to reflect on the major vote that is expected on health-care legislation in the Senate on Tuesday.
At 6:52 a.m., the president returned to the topic of Russia to defend his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a senior adviser in the White House and met privately with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday to answer questions about four meetings he had with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition period.
“Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!” Trump tweeted, referring to his youngest son.
In criticizing Sessions on Tuesday, Trump reprised a line of attack he has used lately against the
former Alabama senator, who emerged last year as his strongest congressional supporter.
On Monday, Trump tweeted from his personal account: “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?”
Sessions announced in March that he was recusing himself from campaign-related investigations a day after The Washington Post reported that he had twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and did not disclose those meetings during his confirmation hearing in January before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Trump told the New York Times last week that he believes Sessions’s recusal decision was “very unfair to the president.”
Trump’s latest tweets fueled speculation that he is prodding Sessions to quit.
Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt tweeted Tuesday morning that Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s new communications director, told him, “You’re probably right,” regarding his reading that Trump’s remarks mean he “wants AG Sessions to resign.”
In an interview with Hewitt, Scaramucci described Trump as “obviously frustrated” but said he does not think the president wants to fire Sessions and ventured that they “need to work this thing out.”
“It’s clear the president wants him gone,” Hewitt shot back.
Scaramucci replied: “If there’s this level of tension in the relationship that’s public, you’re probably right. But I don’t want to speak for the president on that.” Later, Scaramucci jokingly asked Hewitt if he was available for the job.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a frequent Trump target himself, wrote on Twitter that it is “fully transparent” that Trump “wants to force Sessions to resign so he can appoint someone to curb Mueller probe.” Schiff added: “Only works if Senate lets it.” He referred to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, the former FBI director appointed in May to oversee investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters.
After coming under criticism from Trump last week, Sessions dismissed the notion that he would quit — with a caveat.
“We love this job,” he told reporters. “We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”
Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.
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