President Trump's attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions threaten to do "real harm to his agenda and even his presidency," according to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch.
"My advice to the president has been, and will continue to be, to think more carefully about some of the things he says, particularly on Twitter," Hatch, R-Utah, said during a Saturday radio interview. "Because we've gotten to the point where it can do real harm to his agenda and even his presidency."
Hatch is the latest senior Republican lawmaker to defend Sessions, whom Trump has criticized sharply for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. His public criticism of the president is more notable than some, however, as he was the second Senate Republican to endorse Trump during the presidential primary season. Sessions was the first, as Hatch noted.
"It's a little difficult to me to understand why the president is jumping all over Jeff," Hatch said Saturday on the Doug Wright Show. "He gave up a very safe Senate seat to serve in the [administration] and to serve this president and I really think he deserves a bit more respect than he's being shown right now."
Hatch, who followed Sessions in endorsing Trump last May, has maintained a close partnership with the White House since the general election. His former chief of staff, Rob Porter, left Hatch's office to take a new position as White House staff secretary when Trump took office. More recently, Trump nominated Chris Campbell — who works under Hatch as staff director of the Finance Committee — to a senior post in the Treasury Department.
"We have about 85-90 percent of the current administration's incoming agenda," Campbell said in February while describing the relationship between the Finance Committee and the Trump team. "They've been not shy about reaching out and asking our opinion, and we've not been shy to give them our opinion and best advice on how best to get the policy and the politics in alignment on trade."
And yet, Hatch echoed Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley's public warning that, if Trump forces Sessions out of the administration, Senate Republicans will not confirm his replacement any time soon. "I don't think he's going to fire Jeff," Hatch said. "Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has already announced that the Judiciary Committee will not be considering another candidate [for attorney general] this year. So the door is closed on that, according to Sen. Grassley."