Sessions Praises Trump Hours After President’s Latest Attack

(Bloomberg) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised President Donald Trump for taking decisive action to fight crime and support law enforcement, only hours after the president leveled one of his strongest attacks yet against the former senator, saying he essentially doesn’t exist.

In prepared remarks for a speech to law enforcement officers in Illinois Wednesday afternoon, Sessions credited Trump’s "strong leadership" for policies that are "respecting police again and enforcing our laws."

"Based on my experience meeting with officers like you across the country, I believe that morale has already improved under President Trump," Sessions said, according to his prepared remarks to a conference in Waukegan, Illinois. "I can feel the difference."

It’s not a two-way relationship, however, as the latest broadside by the president against his top law enforcement officer on Wednesday showed.

“I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” Trump said in an interview with Hill.TV, the Capitol Hill newspaper’s online TV channel, that aired Wednesday.

Trump said his dissatisfaction with Sessions goes beyond the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Russian interference into the 2016 election. The president said his concern also extends to Sessions’ handling of immigration issues and representing himself “poorly” during his Senate confirmation hearings, which took place more than 1-1/2 years ago.

“I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me,” Trump added. “And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn’t see it.”

The president reiterated his view to reporters as he left the White House on Wednesday, en route to view hurricane damage in North Carolina. “I’m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons,” he said.

Special Counsel

In May, Trump said that he wished he’d never nominated Sessions for the post because of the former Alabama senator’s recusal from the Russia probe. That recusal led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s since won guilty pleas and cooperation agreements from Trump’s former national security adviser, campaign manager and others.

During his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Sessions said he saw no reason why he would need to recuse himself despite his role in the 2016 campaign as an early and prominent Trump supporter and adviser.

Sessions reversed course in March 2017, removing himself from the investigation after it became public that he had contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. that he’d failed to disclose during the confirmation process. He said he made the decision to recuse after several weeks of consultations with senior career officials in the Justice Department.

Trump has complained that Sessions should have told him of his plans to recuse in advance of his nomination.

In some cases, Sessions has pushed back.

Last month, after Trump said Sessions had failed to take control of the Justice Department, the attorney general released a statement in response.

“I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in,” he said in a statement. “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

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