WaPo: Trump privately talks of idea to replace Jeff Sessions with recess appointment

Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (YouTube, CBS News)

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that President Trump has been privately discussing the idea of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a recess appointment if Sessions leaves the job.  According to the report, Trump “has been warned not to move to push him out because of the political and legal ramifications, according to people briefed on the conversations.”

The Post added:

Still raging over Sessions’s recusal from the Justice Department’s escalating Russia investigation, Trump has been talking privately about how he might replace Sessions and possibly sidestep Senate oversight, four people familiar with the issue said.

Two of those people, however, described Trump as musing about the idea rather than outlining a plan of action, and a senior White House official said no action is imminent. Several people familiar with the discussions said that Trump’s fury peaked over the weekend and that he and Sessions now seem to be heading toward an uneasy detente.

When asked Wednesday about the president’s discussions of a recess appointment, the White House released a one-sentence denial from Trump: “More fake news from the Amazon Washington Post.” The Washington Post is owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon.

The report, which is full of references to unnamed sources, says “top West Wing officials have drawn different conclusions from their conversations — in part because the president ruminates aloud and floats hypotheticals, often changing his views hour to hour.”

“My understanding is the Sessions thing ends with Sessions leaving the attorney general job to go spend more time with his family,” one “outside” White House counselor allegedly told the Post.  The report goes on to say the counselor — like many others — “spoke on the condition of anonymity because the subject is highly sensitive.”

The Post further said:

Trump, who has called Sessions “beleaguered” and “very weak,” renewed his rhetorical attacks on Wednesday by questioning why Sessions had not replaced the acting FBI director.

In two tweets just before 10 a.m., Trump wrote: “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!”

The attack was curious considering the president has the authority to remove McCabe himself without Sessions. After Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein met with four candidates to lead the FBI on an interim basis, but the administration decided to stick with McCabe.

Trump has openly expressed frustration with Sessions for his recusal from the Trump-Russia probe, a move that Rep. Gowdy, R-S.C., and others, said is appropriate.

“I think the President’s frustration was not the recusal. I hope it wasn’t, because I don’t think Attorney General Sessions had a choice but to recuse himself,” Gowdy said. “If the president could be frustrated, he should be frustrated by what led up to the recusal, which was Sen. Sessions had a faulty memory.”

Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh have also wondered about the open criticism of Sessions.

“None of this Trump-Sessions stuff makes any sense,” Limbaugh said Wednesday morning. “This kind of open criticism, if it’s designed to make Sessions resign, it isn’t working. And if the objective here is to get him to resign, it means Trump wants him gone. And if he wants him gone, he could just fire him. He’s not doing that. I think one of the reasons why is if Sessions does go — however which way — Trump’s gotta find a new nominee for attorney general.”

He further wondered:

A. Who’s gonna take it?

B. How the hell are they gonna get confirmed, unless they nominate a Democrat?

It just doesn’t make sense. So because it doesn’t make sense in the way we are seeing it, it has to make sense in some other way, because none of these people are stupid. I hear all this talk, “You know, Trump is meeting with his staff. His staff is urging him to stop this.” Really? You really want us to believe that Trump’s having meetings with the staff and the staff’s saying, “Mr. President, we really think you ought to dial this down,” as though Trump is unaware of the trouble he’s causing?

Meanwhile, Sessions, who is far more popular than Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, is set to announce investigations into leaks to the media, according to Fox News:

The investigations will look at news reports that publicized sensitive intelligence material, according to officials who have been briefed on the matter.

Meanwhile, it appears that Sessions has no plans to step down at this point.

A source familiar with the conversation tells Fox News that Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, recently told White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that the attorney general had no intention of resigning.

Trump said Tuesday that Sessions has not been tougher on leaks from the intelligence community.

“I want the attorney general to be much tougher,” Trump said. “I want the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before, at a very important level. These are intelligence agencies we cannot have that happen.”

So is this report yet another giant “nothingburger?”  Only time will tell…

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