Trump Says He Wishes He Had Picked Someone Other Than Sessions for AG

President responds to Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s comments on Russia investigation

U.S. President Donald Trump crosses the South Lawn after arriving at the White House on May 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump crosses the South Lawn after arriving at the White House on May 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Posted May 30, 2018 at 9:13am

President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tweeting that he wishes he had selected a different person for the job.

The president used several tweets to quote House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, who appeared on CBS’s “This Morning.” The South Carolina Republican said the president is frustrated with Sessions because the attorney general did not tell him he would recuse himself from the Justice Department’s election meddling probe.

Gowdy said he believes Trump would have picked someone else had he known Sessions would step back from that investigation.

“And I wish I did!” Trump tweeted.

Trump latched on to that portion of the retiring Gowdy’s interview. But so far, he has not commented on the GOP lawmaker’s breaking ranks on what the president has dubbed “Spygate.”

The White House has accused the FBI of crossing a line by using an informant in the early days of the Russia probe to look into potential contacts between Moscow and the Trump campaign. But Gowdy said the FBI acted properly.

“I am even more convinced” after getting a classified briefing on Thursday about the informant and his mission “that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy told Fox News on Tuesday night.

In his Wednesday interview with CBS, Gowdy again said the FBI acted properly in its investigation.

“Informants are used all day, every day by law enforcement. They are sources of information. You call them confidential informants because you don’t want everyone to know they have a relationship with law enforcement. I can’t think of any major case I handled in 20 years where there was not someone willing to provide information. It’s up to law enforcement to go validate or ratify the information, but you have to have people coming forward. And then what law enforcement does is up to them,” the former prosecutor said.

Asked if Trump telling Sessions to reverse his recusal would constitute obstruction of justice, the South Carolina congressman said, “I don’t think so. I think what the president is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal when he took the job, not afterward.”

“If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated, too. That’s how I read that,” Gowdy said. 

“There are lots of really good lawyers in this country,” he added. “He could have picked someone else.”

Despite the president’s tweets, some political analysts doubt he would fire Sessions. One reason is that Rosenstein, with whom Trump is also frustrated over the same investigation, would be in line to take over the Justice Department. Another is the likelihood of stoking Republican anger, both over firing a former GOP senator and over forcing the Senate to process another Cabinet nomination — possibly controversial — in a midterm election year.

Griffin Connolly contributed to this report.

Watch: How Trump’s Attacks on Mueller Probe Are Playing on Capitol Hill

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