Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had quite the week. When President Donald Trump nominated Session in mid-November, he said he was “unbelievably impressed” with the man. Now, nary an hour can go by without Trump lacing into him.
On Tuesday morning, the president continued his week-old campaign against the former Alabama senator, haranguing him for having a “weak” stance on Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email system for her work as secretary of state.
Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – "quietly working to boost Clinton." So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
The “Ukranian efforts to sabotage [the] Trump campaign” refers to Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukranian-American consultant hired by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Separate from her work for the DNC, Chalupa attempted to gain information from the Ukrainian government about former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort‘s work for the election of former Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych. Chalupa’s research into Manafort began in 2014, but she resumed it in 2016 and said she occasionally shared information with the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. Officials from both entities have denied receiving information.
Trump then blasted Andrew McCabe, the acting head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), because his wife received campaign donations. Jill McCabe unsuccessfully ran for the Virginia state Senate in 2015. She received a combined total of approximately $700,000 in donations from the Virginia Democrat Party and Common Good VA, a super PAC closely affiliated with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of Clinton’s.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
The tweets come as Trump has, unprompted, launched an all-out, two-pronged attack on Sessions in an apparent attempt to get him to halt the Russia investigation and reinvestigate his 2016 opponent.
It began Friday morning when the New York Times released a transcript of an interview with Trump, in which the president said he would not have hired Sessions for the job if he knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump said:
“So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have—which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. 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 can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.”
Trump followed that up with a tweet Monday declaring Sessions “beleaguered.”
So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Sessions, who served as an adviser on Trump’s campaign, recused himself in early March after reports revealed he failed to mention multiple conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisliyak during his Senate confirmation hearing.
During one of the 2016 debates, Trump infamously said that if he became president, Clinton would be in jail.
“And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump said. “There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”
Trump’s rallies were often also dotted with chants of “lock her up.” Now, with his latest string of tweets, it appears Trump is attempting to steer his attorney general into reopening the case against Clinton.
According to multiple constitutional law scholars, it is not within the president’s powers to order the Justice Department to conduct specific investigations, as it is supposed to remain an apolitical organization whose only responsibility is enforcing current laws.
Trump’s attacks on Sessions come amid reports that Trump is considering replacing Session. On Monday, rumors began circulating that Trump was considering former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani to replace sessions. Giuliani denied those reports and said Sessions “made the right decision” by recusing himself from the federal investigation into Russia.