WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was “disappointed” with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but declined to say he would fire him.
“I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself,” Trump said during a joint news conference with the Lebanese prime minister, hours after firing off his latest missive targeting Sessions.
“If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have quite simply picked someone else,” he said.
Pressed further on whether he wants Sessions to resign, Trump simply added once more that he is “very disappointed” in Sessions.
“But we will see what happens, time will tell, time will tell,” the President said.
Trump said he also hopes Sessions will crack down on what “leaks” from various intelligence agencies.
“I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies,” Trump said. “These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen.”
Earlier in the day, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci defended Trump’s public critiques of Sessions, saying Trump “wants his Cabinet secretaries to have his back.”
Trump tweeted on Monday and Tuesday to call his attorney general “beleaguered” and “VERY weak,” raising the specter that he may soon seek to push Sessions off his perch atop the Justice Department.
Scaramucci, speaking with reporters at the White House, praised Sessions’ efforts campaigning for Trump during the election season and noted that he “was there early for him,” but conceded: “There’s obviously an issue in the relationship.”
“We’ll get a resolution shortly,” Scaramucci said.
Trump’s anger stems from the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in March, but that frustration spilled over into the public eye when Trump rebuked Sessions in an interview with The New York Times last week, saying he would not have appointed Sessions to the position had he known he would recuse himself.
GOP senators countered Trump’s criticism on Tuesday with an outpouring of support for Sessions, with several releasing statements backing Sessions’ recusal decision and praising his work as attorney general.