Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted on Thursday that President Trump will replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general in the near future, hours after the president publicly accused Sessions of failing to “take control” of the Department of Justice.
“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Graham told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg News. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president,” he added.
Trump resumed his long-running campaign against Sessions during a Fox News interview that aired Thursday morning.
“I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department. Jeff Sessions, never took control of the Justice Department. It’s sort of an incredible thing,” Trump said, referring to Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from all matters relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election. “It’s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn’t have put him in.”
Sessions issued a rare public statement hours later, rebutting the president’s charge of ineffective leadership.
“I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President’s agenda—one that protects the safety and security and rights of the American people, reduces violent crime, enforces our immigration laws, promotes economic growth, and advances religious liberty,” Sessions said in the statement, which was released on Thursday afternoon.
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, also appeared receptive to the idea that Trump might replace Sessions, telling Bloomberg Thursday that he would be willing to hold confirmation hearings for Sessions’s replacement after previously ruling out that possibility based on time constraints.
The former Alabama senator recused himself from the DOJ’s Russia investigation last year, after it became clear that he’d met secretly with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak during the campaign. Trump has long bemoaned Sessions’s recusal and has suggested that the decision to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest is primarily responsible for the specter cast over his administration by the ongoing special-counsel probe.
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