Donald Trump on Tuesday condemned Jeff Sessions for his “very weak position” on Hillary Clinton, as he continued to rage against the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
In a series of early morning tweets, issued on a day expected to feature a crucial Senate vote on healthcare reform, with a new Russia sanctions bill heading to his desk and after his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s appearance before the Senate intelligence committee, Trump blasted the investigation into Russian meddling into last year’s US election.
He slammed Sessions for not investigating his presidential rival in the race and raised questions, without offering evidence, about Ukraine’s alleged role in supporting the Democratic candidate.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump wrote.
“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!”
McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, ran for state senate in Virginia in 2015, and lost. She received donations from sources connected to Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally.
In an earlier tweet, Trump wrote: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – ‘quietly working to boost Clinton’. So where is the investigation A.G”.
Trump regularly tweets early in the morning, often reflecting opinions voiced on the Fox News show Fox & Friends. His comments on Tuesday followed a pattern that intensified earlier this month with Trump’s harsh criticism of Sessions in an interview with the New York Times. On Monday, Trump referred to the attorney general in a tweet as “beleaguered”.
Reports have indicated that privately, Trump has speculated to allies about the potential consequences of firing Sessions, fuelling speculation that Sessions may end up offering his resignation. During an event at the White House, Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Sessions should step down. The attorney general said last week he intended to stay in his post “as long as appropriate”.
Sessions made the decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had met Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, last year and did not disclose such meetings.
On Friday the Washington Post reported that Kislyak told superiors he discussed election-related issues with Sessions during the 2016 election. The Post cited anonymous US officials who described intelligence intercepts of Kislyak’s descriptions of his meetings with Sessions, then a foreign policy adviser to Trump.
Responding to the report, Trump did not defend Sessions but did appear to confirm that the Post had seen a genuine piece of intelligence.
“A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions,” Trump wrote on Saturday. “These illegal leaks, like [former FBI director James] Comey’s, must stop!”
Newt Gingrich, a frequent Trump adviser, said on Monday the president was simply being “honest about his feelings. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to do anything”. Still, he said such comments would have repercussions for staff morale.
“Anybody who is good at team building would suggest to the president that attacking members of your team rattles the whole team,” Gingrich said.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, another Trump backer who was linked by press reports to the post of attorney general, told CNN on Monday he did not want the job and would have recused himself if he had been in Sessions’ position.
As the saga unfolded on Monday, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Kushner appeared on Capitol Hill to insist he “did not collude” with Russia during the election, dismissing the significance of a meeting with Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer.
In an 11-page statement released early on Monday before his appearance in front of the Senate intelligence committee, Kushner claimed he had four contacts with Russian officials during the presidential election and transition but said they were part of his role as a Trump campaign point man for foreign governments.
On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted: “Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!”
Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s new communications director, said it was time for Trump and Sessions to hash out a resolution, regardless of what they decide.
“My own personal opinion, I think they’ve got to have a meeting and have a reconciliation one way or another. You know what I mean? Either stay or go, one way or another,” he said.