Sessions: No plans to resign after Trump criticism – Politico
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday he plans to stay on in his current job, even after President Donald Trump harshly criticized him a day earlier for recusing himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.
“I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” Sessions said at a Department of Justice news conference.
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In response to a flurry of questions about Trump’s public attacks on the top Justice Department leaders in a New York Times interview, Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein took a “nothing to see here” approach, insisting that the president’s statements had not undermined their ability to do their jobs.
“We, inside this Department of Justice, will continue every single day to work hard to serve the national interest and to wholeheartedly join in the priorities of President Trump,” Sessions said. “I have the honor of serving as attorney general. It’s something that goes beyond any thought that I would have ever had for myself. We love this job. We love this department.”
Asked how he could continue without Trump’s confidence, Sessions did not appear to dispute that the president was displeased with him.
“We’re serving right now. What we’re doing today is the kind of work that we intend to continue,” the attorney general said, referring to an announcement the Justice Department made Thursday about the dismantling of massive ‘dark web’ sites said to be trading in drugs, child pornography, weapons and other contraband. “I’m totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way.”
Trump told the Times in an interview Wednesday that he would not have hired Sessions had he known Sessions, as attorney general, would recuse himself from the Russia probe. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you,'” Trump told the newspaper.
Trump also suggested Rosenstein had made a mistake by naming a special counsel to take over the Russia investigation after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. The president also questioned the deputy attorney general’s political allegiance, saying: “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.”
Rosenstein offered no direct reaction to the swipe, nor did he rise to the defense of his hometown.
“We are working here every day to advance the priorities of the president and the administration,” Rosenstein said. “I was proud to be here yesterday. I’m proud to be here today. I’ll be proud to be here tomorrow. And we are spending every minute working to advance the interests of the department and, as the attorney general said.”
The deputy attorney general then said he wouldn’t take any additional questions on topics other than the cybercrime take-down.
The Justice Department news conference also was attended by a third official Trump criticized during the interview, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
“We have a director of the FBI, acting, who received $700,000, whose wife received $700,000 from, essentially, Hillary Clinton,” Trump claimed, referring to campaign funds longtime Clinton adviser and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe transferred to an unsuccessful state Senate campaign waged by McCabe’s wife.
McCabe spoke at Thursday’s news conference, but he did not address the president’s attack.
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