Sources Say President Trump Is P.O.ed at Jeff Sessions

Must be a day ending in “y” because the New York Times has a breathless story titled Trump Grows Discontented With Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The story is based on an unknown number of unnamed sources to add flavor to two Trump tweets:


(I think we can all agree that these tweets were a manifestly unwise use of Twitter.)

Few Republicans were quicker to embrace President Trump’s campaign last year than Jeff Sessions, and his reward was one of the most prestigious jobs in America. But more than four months into his presidency, Mr. Trump has grown sour on Mr. Sessions, now his attorney general, blaming him for various troubles that have plagued the White House.

The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump accused Mr. Sessions’s department of devising a “politically correct” version of the ban — as if the president had nothing to do with it.

In private, the president’s exasperation has been even sharper. He has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.


I’d be shocked if Trump was not pissed after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe. I’d really be stunned if he wasn’t chewing the furniture and tearing at the carpets when a special counsel was appointed. The real question is what does it mean?

Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School who, throughout the 2016 election, defended the civil liberties of Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton, said the president was clearly voicing frustration with Mr. Sessions. But he said it was not clear to him that it was a personal issue as opposed to an institutional one with the office.

“What he’s saying is, ‘I’m the president, I’m the tough guy, I wanted a very tough travel ban and the damn lawyers are weakening it’ — and clients complain about lawyers all the time,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “I see this more as a client complaining about his lawyer. The lawyer in this case happens to be Jeff Sessions.”

David B. Rivkin Jr., a lawyer who served in the White House and Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, said Mr. Trump clearly looked at the case from the lens of a businessman who did not get his money’s worth.

“He’s unhappy when the results don’t come in,” Mr. Rivkin said. “I’m sure he was convinced to try the second version, and the second iteration did not do better than the first iteration, so the lawyers in his book did not do a good job. It’s understandable for a businessman.”


Sessions is a big boy. He can handle nasty tweets from Trump and he will remain a loyal soldier for Trump within the bounds of legal and ethical behavior. In fact, the persistent caterwauling by Democrats over alleged meetings Sessions had with Russians is nothing more than a transparent attempt to rough up a guy who was known by everyone on both sides of the aisle to be a man of unimpeachable integrity.

Trump, at some point, has to grasp the fact that he needs friends, that he has damned few of them, and that the federal bureaucracy doesn’t respond to orders like the staff of a pre-bankruptcy Trump casino. I see the tweets as a social media version of primal scream therapy. If Trump does fire Sessions, it is hard to see who he can get confirmed in the current environment who would serve his needs better than Sessions.


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