by Daveda Gruber:
How many punches can and will Attorney General Jeff Sessions sustain from President Trump?
This boxing match has gone on for a year now. The easygoing former senator has taken quite a few punches from Trump. Can he undergo much more?
On Tuesday Trump ripped into his top law enforcement official over his decision to ask the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, to review alleged surveillance abuse by intelligence agencies.
Trump has criticized the IG is an “Obama guy” and such an investigation will “take forever.”
The inspector general has served under presidents of both parties. He was sworn in on April 16, 2012.
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
More often than not, Sessions does not respond to Trumps slams but he did, this time.
Sessions said in a statement, “We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary. As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”
Sessions had some supporters join him in this match of tolerance.
On Wednesday Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, Sessions’ former colleague, said he wouldn’t stay if he were in Sessions’ shoes.
He said, “I wouldn’t be anybody’s whipping boy. I wouldn’t be belittled because the president is saying you don’t have any confidence in me.”
Shelby referred to Sessions as a “good man.”
He said, “He’s going through a lot. He has a lot of challenges.”
A former Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, backed Sessions’ decision to ask the IG to investigate FISA abuse. He called the move “precisely the right choice.”
He said in a statement, “If anyone at DOJ should look into the circumstances of this FISA application, it is the IG, who reports to both the Attorney General and Congress.”
The president’s attack was the latest in a multitude of public swings at the AG. He was one of Trump’s earliest supporters. Sessions is allied with Trump’s base on issues like immigration and crime.
Their relationship went dreadfully bad within months of Trump taking office. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia meddling investigation did not sit well with Trump.
Sessions tried to resign last May after Trump called him an “idiot,” but then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus arbitrated and helped encouraged him to stay in his position.
The sparing has continued. Last week, Trump tweeted:
Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
Trump has a way with words and nicknames. He now refers to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” the bumbling elderly cartoon character.
Sessions has stood up to all of this, so far.
On the anniversary of his confirmation, Sessions’ staff bought him a a gift of a bulletproof vest with his name on it.
There is no indication at this point that Sessions plans to step down. On Wednesday Sessions dined at a high-end D.C. restaurant with deputy Rod Rosenstein and Solicitor General Noel Francisco. This was described as a show of solidarity.
Still, Sessions’ allies are “deeply concerned” by the latest feud, noting that it feels “different” from previous displays.
It would seem unlikely Trump would look to fire Sessions if the attorney general stays on the job. This would not look good after the bedlam that followed after the firing of James Comey.
FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reported to have already started investigating a period last summer where Trump tried to push Sessions out.
This came in regards to concerns that Trump was looking to replace him with someone who would exercise control over the Russia probe.
I realize that the president moves quickly. He works hard. I believe he likes people to do the same. He is frustrated that Sessions has not stepped up and fought some more battles than he has initiated into combat.