Maybe it should come as little surprise that a man who, until summer of 2015, was most famous for firing people, is not a good boss. Yet President Trump’s comments Wednesday about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, delivered in an interview with The New York Times, still take one’s breath away.
“Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself,” Trump said. “So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have—which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. 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 can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”
There’s no obvious analogy for a president going after his own attorney general so aggressively in public, much less in an interview with a paper he has repeatedly derided as “failing.” Trump’s comments are not only a huge breach of protocol, they’re odd because Sessions serves at the pleasure of the president, and Trump could fire him. The president’s anger at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation has been reported before, and Sessions reportedly offered to resign in May—but Trump refused the offer. Yet this is different: Trump is going after Sessions publicly, assailing his judgment and saying unequivocally that he wishes he had another attorney general. Politico reports that Trump’s comments came without warning to anyone in the administration.