SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Jeff Sessions finally punches back at Donald Trump -- hard

Hours after being repeatedly insulted by President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions just did som...

Posted: Aug 24, 2018 10:15 AM
Updated: Aug 24, 2018 10:15 AM

Hours after being repeatedly insulted by President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions just did something he rarely, if ever, does: He punched back -- hard.

Here's Sessions' full statement:

2016 Presidential election

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Investigations

Jeff Sessions

Justice departments

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

US Federal elections

US federal government

US Presidential elections

White House

"I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President's agenda -- one that protects the safety and security and rights of the American people, reduces violent crime, enforces our immigration laws, promotes economic growth, and advances religious liberty.

While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action. However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the United States.

I am proud to serve with them and proud of the work we have done in successfully advancing the rule of law."

The first line come as a direct rebuttal to Trump putting Sessions on blast with this line in his interview with "Fox and Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt: "I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department. Jeff Sessions never took control of the Justice Department and it's a sort of an incredible thing."

That was far from the only time Trump ran down Sessions in the Fox interview. He told Earhardt that "even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in." Trump added that the only reason he gave Sessions a job in his administration was because he was loyal. And, in perhaps the most cutting and personal attack, Trump said this of Sessions: "He took the job and then he said, 'I'm going to recuse myself.' I said, 'What kind of a man is this?'"

"What kind of man is this" -- a shot at both Sessions' masculinity and his ethics.

What's remarkable here is not that Trump attacked Sessions publicly. After all, Trump has called Sessions "weak" and "beleaguered" and told multiple news outlets that he would have never hired Sessions if he had known the attorney general was going to recuse himself in the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

No, the truly unique thing here is that Sessions decided to actually speak up in his own defense. The only other time -- that I can find -- that Sessions directly responded to a Trump attack was back at the end of February, when the President tweeted this:

"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!"

Sessions shot back that he had "initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary," adding: "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."

Other than that one flare-up, however, Sessions has seemed content to stay silent amid Trump's assaults -- seemingly unwilling to be bullied into quitting his post and/or wanting Trump to be forced to fire him.

Sessions' latest statement seems like a (re)ramping-up of the longstanding tensions between the two men. It reads like a dare by Sessions for Trump to fire him -- a calling of the bully on his big talk.

What occasioned this moment? It's not hard to imagine that Trump, watching the conviction of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the plea deal of former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen on Tuesday, would fly into a rage directed at Sessions. After all, both of those cases came as the direct result of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe -- an investigation that Trump believes not only should have never been started but is, in fact, illegal. (It's not.)

Trump's thinking goes like this: Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is the root of all the problems he faces. With Sessions out of the picture, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided to appoint Mueller as special counsel. If Sessions hadn't recused himself, in Trump's mind, none of that happens. And would not be in the bind he knows he's in -- even if he presents himself publicly as entirely unconcerned about the Mueller investigation or the Manafort and Cohen developments.

Now, Sessions' decision to recuse himself was seen, by most legal experts, as the right thing to do. He was a prominent surrogate for Trump during the 2016 campaign and, during his confirmation hearings to be attorney general, had failed to mention several interactions he had with Russians during the course of the campaign. (A year after his recusal, Sessions was asked during an appearance at the Federalist Society whether he regretted the move. "No I don't," he said. "I think that's what I had to do.")

To Trump, however, the rightness of the legal move paled in comparison to the lack of loyalty Sessions had showed him by recusing himself. "Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the President," Trump told the New York Times in an interview in July 2017. "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair -- and that's a mild word -- to the President."

What Trump has never been willing to do -- despite his belief that Sessions' betrayal is to blame for his current political morass -- is fire Sessions. As recently as late May, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN of Trump and Sessions that "there's no doubt [Trump] has some, some grievances. I don't know if they've aired them out yet, but he's not going to fire him before this is over, nor do I think he should."

The "this" in Guiliani's quote above is the Mueller investigation which, as you know, still isn't over. But, with Sessions using language like, "while I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations," it feels like he is goading Trump to get rid of him.

Who blinks first?

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 129863

Reported Deaths: 2367
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin33310981
Ramsey13782357
Dakota9541137
Anoka8414150
Stearns566541
Washington546970
Scott329334
Olmsted318330
St. Louis285065
Wright236714
Nobles221916
Clay221443
Blue Earth20207
Carver17437
Kandiyohi16505
Sherburne163421
Rice16059
Mower150315
Winona123618
Crow Wing98021
Lyon9516
Chisago9502
Waseca9229
Benton9107
Beltrami8717
Otter Tail8187
Todd7695
Steele7413
Nicollet71417
Itasca70617
Morrison6948
Freeborn6594
Douglas6473
Le Sueur6145
Martin60616
Polk5964
McLeod5804
Watonwan5764
Goodhue55811
Becker5383
Pine5230
Isanti5195
Chippewa4243
Carlton4111
Mille Lacs38714
Dodge3860
Hubbard3692
Wabasha3590
Cass3575
Pipestone34217
Meeker3223
Brown3163
Rock3154
Yellow Medicine2755
Cottonwood2720
Murray2723
Redwood26911
Fillmore2500
Renville24311
Sibley2433
Roseau2280
Faribault2210
Wadena2153
Unassigned21153
Jackson2071
Houston1951
Kanabec19510
Swift1941
Stevens1771
Lincoln1760
Pennington1741
Aitkin1652
Koochiching1654
Pope1540
Big Stone1320
Lac qui Parle1313
Wilkin1294
Lake1150
Norman1080
Mahnomen1062
Marshall1031
Clearwater1010
Grant924
Red Lake692
Traverse540
Lake of the Woods441
Kittson380
Cook120

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112754

Reported Deaths: 1615
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18617286
Woodbury704194
Johnson576330
Black Hawk544098
Linn5342129
Dubuque501657
Scott433738
Story394418
Dallas339744
Pottawattamie314844
Sioux236416
Buena Vista224112
Marshall198336
Webster180715
Plymouth161927
Wapello150562
Clinton143026
Muscatine140758
Crawford134414
Des Moines133610
Cerro Gordo131425
Warren12037
Carroll109912
Jasper107034
Henry10325
Marion96310
Lee93110
Tama92737
Delaware74212
Dickinson7217
Wright7101
Boone7039
Mahaska67024
Bremer6559
Harrison63711
Washington63411
Jackson5763
Benton5532
Lyon5337
Clay5144
Louisa51215
Winnebago46619
Hamilton4624
Hardin4606
Winneshiek4609
Kossuth4510
Poweshiek44711
Cedar4375
Buchanan4314
Jones4284
Floyd42511
Emmet42017
Clayton3933
Iowa3918
Cherokee3882
Page3860
Sac3854
Guthrie38015
Franklin37818
Cass3712
Mills3711
Shelby3621
Fayette3604
Butler3592
Madison3533
Allamakee3518
Chickasaw3411
Clarke3393
Humboldt3163
Palo Alto3082
Hancock3064
Grundy2925
Calhoun2904
Osceola2660
Howard2629
Monroe25811
Mitchell2430
Monona2361
Jefferson2311
Taylor2312
Union2234
Appanoose2203
Pocahontas2192
Lucas1986
Fremont1941
Ida1872
Greene1830
Van Buren1672
Davis1654
Montgomery1647
Keokuk1561
Adair1521
Decatur1480
Audubon1411
Worth1370
Wayne1163
Ringgold882
Adams740
Unassigned80
Rochester
Overcast
28° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 22°
Mason City
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 21°
Albert Lea
Overcast
28° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 19°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
30° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 23°
Charles City
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 24°
Another Round of Snow
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

Rochester considers new downtown library complex

Image

Rochester Public Works Proposes Speed Limit Reduction

Image

Sports Overtime part two

Image

Sports Overtime part one

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Friday

Image

Outdoor dining is on the rise and grant funding is helping

Image

Preventing self storage thefts

Image

Big plans for a new library building in Rochester

Image

Rochester Public Works proposed speed limit reduction

Community Events