President Trump's chaotic relationship with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has reportedly drawn the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, specifically on any effort Trump may have made to remove Sessions from his position last year.
Mueller, who is leading the federal investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, is honing in on what Trump said in private in July and August last year and is asking witnesses detailed questions about Trump’s opinion of Sessions at that time, according to the Washington Post.
At the time, Trump had publicly rebuked Sessions, calling him “beleaguered” for not “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes.” Trump also said in an interview in July 2017 that it was “unfair” to him for Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Trump said if he had known Sessions would do so, he would have probably chosen someone else to head the Justice Department.
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation before Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, after which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tapped Mueller to lead the probe.
In mid-July, Trump privately weighed firing Sessions or squeezing him out of the agency, according to those familiar with the discussions. Trump was reportedly shocked that Sessions had not already quit and was optimistic Sessions would be so humiliated by his public remarks that he would opt to step down.
However, Trump was convinced not to fire Sessions then by conservative lawmakers, according to the report.
The report comes hours after Trump torched Sessions on Wednesday for how the agency is digging deeper into allegations of possible surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse,” Trump tweeted. “Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
Sessions responded, saying he will "continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor" as long as he is attorney general.