On Wednesday, as just about everyone knows by now, Donald Trump gave an interview to the New York Times in which he lambasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for accepting the post and then recusing himself from decisions on the Russia probe.
A lot of GOP senators were not happy:
Confronted with the rare and awkward choice of siding with either a president of their party or a Cabinet member who’s a former colleague, Senate Republicans are sounding of single mind:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, until five months ago a senior GOP senator from Alabama, has done nothing to merit the upbraiding he’s been taking from President Donald Trump.
Being a former member of one of the most exclusive clubs in American politics, it seems, has privileges — including insulation from a wave of piling on when your job seems in jeopardy.
Conversations on Thursday with nine senators from across the Republican ideological spectrum, representing one-sixth of the party caucus, produced not a single critical word about their former colleague — let alone anyone willing to agree the president is justified in being angry that Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Well, the reporter could have looked a little deeper:
I agree with @realDonaldTrump, his Attorney General should not have recused himself over reported incidental contacts with Russian officials
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 20, 2017
Yesterday, Paul was guest on Dom Giordano’s radio show and he discussed the subject:
“I do think he could’ve been stronger and stood up and said, look, I met with the Russian Ambassador many times, it was left off of forms as an oversight, but, by golly, I’m going to do my job and I’m not recusing myself. Ultimately, he has the power to do that and I just think that they all got scared of their shadow because the Democrats kept going on and on and on about everybody that once upon a time met with a Russian ambassador or Russian foreign minister.”
While I understand Trump’s desire to feel like he had an ally running the investigation, the fact of the matter was that Sessions was not going to be allowed to be involved in any part of the Russia probe and, moreover, he probably wanted nothing more than to divest himself of a tar-baby that was going to damage his ability to act as AG. The issue was also more complicated than the Russian ambassador no one will admit meeting. Sessions was an early supporter of Trump, endorsed him, and campaigned on his behalf. But the meeting with the Russian ambassador clearly spooked Sessions who probably saw himself getting dragged into the Russia probe as a subject.