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The Ultimate Timeline of Trump’s Escalating Attacks on Sessions


It’s not news to say Donald Trump‘s relationship with Jeff Sessions is a little fractured right now. Now might be a good time to go back, and look at the timeline on the president’s increasingly strained relationship with the attorney general.

March 2, 2017

The AG recused himself from involvement in the FBI’s probe into alleged collusion with the president’s campaign and the Kremlin in the 2016 election. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions did more than omit his meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Asked by Sen. Al Franken what he’d do if anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign talked with Moscow, Sessions insisted he was “not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

June 6

ABC News said Sessions’ and Trump’s working relationship came close to ending. Apparently, the whole recusal thing soured the president on the AG.

Two sources close to the president said he snapped at the AG in private meetings. Things got so bad Sessions offered his resignation, they said. When the Washington Post followed up on that story, a DOJ spokeswoman declined to comment.

July 19

A New York Times interview confirmed that the recusal soured Trump on the AG.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” the president said.

That is…a hell of a thing to say about your employee. Trump called the recusal “very unfair to the president.”

Citing Sessions’ confirmation hearing, Trump said the AG “gave some bad answers. He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”


Here’s a little wrinkle: Trump seems to defend the AG this time. A Washington Post report from the day before said that according to intercepted intelligence communications, Kislyak said he’d spoken to Sessions about campaign-related matters. (The sources were current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the intel.)

The president complained almost immediately about leaks.

Though he stopped short of calling the story false, he later complained about “fake news” in the context of leaks.


But the Tweeter-in-Chief soon criticized his AG again.


The public attacks continued today, when Trump said Sessions “took a very weak” approach to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Very weak”: That is a hell of a thing to say about Sessions, Trump’s earliest Senate supporter in the 2016 campaign. As The Donald’s surrogate and senior Senator of Alabama, Jeff cheerleaded then-FBI Director James Comey‘s controversial handling of the probe into Clinton’s alleged mishandling of emails.

To be sure, presidents have clashed with cabinet members before. Abraham Lincoln had to deal with prickly Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, who made moves to challenge him from the Republican nomination in the 1864 election–POTUS 16 ended up accepting his resignation. But it’s hard to recall any relationship in recent years that was as publicly awkward as Trump’s and Session’s.

POTUS is reportedly thinking about firing the AG, point-blank.

“What would happen if I fired Sessions?” he told a long-time political associate, according to an Axios report on Tuesday.

(The associate reportedly answered, “If you’re going to fire people at Justice, don’t you want to save that bullet for Mueller?”) has reached out to the Department of Justice for comment about Sessions’ employment status. Despite the bad optics, it’s unclear if he’ll leave in the foreseeable future. And even if he does, who is to say that rift is permanent? Lincoln nominated Chase to Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on December 6, 1864. Confirmation took place that same day.

[Screengrabs via CNN]

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