Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired back at President Trump Thursday, insisting he will not let politics dictate Department of Justice investigations.
“While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement. “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.”
The statement marks one of the few times Mr. Sessions has acknowledged the president’s attacks. Mr. Sessions is a frequent target of derision for Mr. Trump, who has savaged his attorney general for recusing himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and failure to investigate whether Hillary Clinton got favorable treatment from the Justice Department.
During a Thursday morning interview on “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump renewed his criticism of Mr. Sessions, accusing him of allowing the Justice Department to undermine his administration.
“I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s sort of an incredible thing.”
Mr. Trump pointed to the several examples of misapplied justice, including the case of Imran Awan, the former IT administrator for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who received no jail time from a judge this week for bank fraud after federal prosecutors didn’t pursue more serious charges of running a spy ring inside Congress and stealing congressional computer equipment.
“He had more information on the corruption of the Democrats than anybody,” Mr. Trump said. “They gave him nothing. He’s a Democrat, he got nothing. The reason he got nothing is because the ‘Dems’ are very strong in the Justice Department.”
In his statement, Mr. Sessions insisted he has been in control of the Justice Department.
“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,” he said.
The president also raised the issue of fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, FBI attorney Lisa Page, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages during the campaign. Mr. Strzok went on to work on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
“It’s really subversion,” the president said of the pair. “And our Justice Department doesn’t do anything about it. People say ‘you appointed Jeff Sessions. I said I did.”
Asked if he might fire Mr. Sessions after the midterm elections, Mr. Trump didn’t answer directly.
“There’s such corruption,” he said. “It’s from before I got here. It’s the Obama administration. They surveilled my campaign.”
When interviewer Ainsley Earhardt noted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed the final request for a special court to approve a surveillance warrant, Mr. Trump replied, “It bothers me, it’s always bothered me.”
“I wanted to stay uninvolved,” he said. “But when everybody sees what’s going on in the Justice Department, it’s a very very sad day.”
Reviving his continual complaint that Mr. Sessions recused himself from the investigation into possible Russian collusion, Mr. Trump said the attorney general “should have told me.”
“He took the job, and then he said I’m going to recuse myself. I said what kind of a man is this?” Mr. Trump said. “He was on the campaign. The only reason I gave him the job [was] because I felt loyalty — an original supporter. He knows there was no collusion.”
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