Politics

Trump Urges Sessions to Investigate His Political Foes

‘Look into all of the corruption on the “other side,”’ president says

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, left, endorsed Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee for president during a campaign rally in Madison, Alabama, in February 2016. Two years later, the two are feuding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:08 a.m. | Amid their public war of words, President Donald Trump has a message for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Investigate my political enemies.

The president fired back Friday morning at his handpicked AG a day after Sessions responded to Trump’s claim that the former GOP senator “never took control of the Justice Department.” That prompted Sessions hours later to release a statement with his own message for Trump: “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.”

Before 7 a.m., Trump appeared to respond to cable news coverage of his renewed feud with Sessions by way of a tweet that included that Sessions quote and what seemed a series of instructions for the Cabinet official for whom he has had the most public scorn.

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“Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the ‘other side,’” the president wrote.

He then finished that tweet and used another one to provide Sessions a list of his political foes the president would like to see investigated by the Justice Department.

Making Trump’s list were, among others, alleged “lies & leaks” by the FBI director he fired, James Comey; alleged “conflicts” of interest Trump contends sullies Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s Russia election meddling probe; former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe; as well as former FBI agent Peter Strzok and his onetime lover and fellow agent Lisa Page.

To be sure, Trump’s enemies list is a long one. He was only getting started.

He also urged Sessions to investigate former British spy Christopher Steele and “his phony and corrupt Dossier” that contains unflattering information about Trump; the Clinton Foundation; what Trump describes as “illegal surveillance” of his 2016 presidential campaign; and “Russian collusion by Dems.”

There are more, or in Trump’s words, “so much more” for the AG to look into.

Trump then tweeted out marching orders for Sessions: “Open up the papers & documents without redaction? Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!”

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Trump’s tweets come as he is reportedly concerned after his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to several federal counts. Those included campaign finance violations stemming from payments to two women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs, with Cohen telling a federal judge they were made at Trump’s direction with the intent of influencing the 2016 election. 

There is an open question in Washington, however, about whether the president’s tweets amount to official guidance for Cabinet and White House officials. On one hand, White House aides have said his tweets from a personal account amount to official government statements. On the other, the same aides have brushed aside other tweets saying he wants a federal agency to do something as merely the boss venting or expressing his opinion.

The president also on Friday morning criticized Sessions for not prosecuting 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. He used the 63-month sentence handed down this week to former intelligence contractor Reality Winner as an example, saying her sending a classified report about Russia attacking a U.S. voting system is “'small potatoes' compared to what Hillary Clinton did!"

"So unfair Jeff," Trump wrote, adding: "Double Standard."

Sessions long has been Trump’s favorite internal piñata, and certainly is the Cabinet official who has most often taken the brunt of the president’s scorn. Trump offered this assessment of Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s special counsel probe of Russian election meddling due to contacts with a senior Russian diplomat while still a senator who was advising the Trump campaign: “What kind of man is this?”

Notably, Trump did not directly answer a Fox News interviewer’s question in the Q&A that aired Thursday morning about whether he intends to fire Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel investigation, after November’s congressional elections.

But he did say he only gave the former Alabama lawmaker the top law enforcement job in the country because he supported Trump’s presidential bid.

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