Spicer was asked about this yesterday as stories swirled about Trump being peeved at Sessions and he ducked it by saying he hasn’t discussed the subject with the president. Well, okay — it’s odd that the White House wouldn’t volunteer a simple “naturally he has confidence in the head of the Justice Department” as a matter of course, but if Spicer legitimately wasn’t prepared for the question, I guess a sincere non-answer is the way to go.
CNN contacted the White House last night, though, hours after Spicer was first asked about Sessions, to see if the press office wanted to issue a follow-up statement. Nope, as it turns out. Trump and Spicer still wouldn’t say when given a second chance that Trump backs Sessions. So reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders again today. Does the president have confidence in his Attorney General? Third time’s the charm, right? Nope:
WH today still can't say if Trump has confidence in Sessions. Sanders says she hasn't had a "chance to have extensive conversation" w Trump
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 7, 2017
What is going on here? Are they trying to humiliate Sessions into resigning? It’s interesting that the current AG seems to be getting frozen out at a moment when a Chris Christie buddy has just been nominated to lead the FBI. I wonder who might be nominated to replace Sessions if he decides that his current position is untenable and steps down.
What’s even stranger about this is that, based on the reporting, Trump and Sessions haven’t had a big blow-up. Sessions did offer to resign, apparently, but in a low-key way that was quickly rejected by Trump. On the other hand, if you believe Axios, Sessions and his allies are angry that Spicer conspicuously refused to vouch for him at yesterday’s briefing. Imagine how much angrier they are now with the White House having since whiffed on two more opportunities:
Per a close ally of the attorney general in the administration:
“Spicer’s passive aggressive ‘I haven’t talked to the President’ dance now has him refusing to defend our own attorney general… What an embarrassment. Would he answer the same way if he’d asked about Reince? I don’t think so.”
Why this matters: A second source who works with Sessions described the comments from the podium as “unhelpful,” and said it only added to the media firestorm already building around the tense relationship between Trump and Sessions.
To find someone willing to say that Trump still has confidence in Sessions, you need to go to Kellyanne Conway, and even she won’t say anything more specific than that the president has confidence in everyone who works for him. The last time she claimed Trump had confidence in one of his top advisors, that guy was fired about five hours later.
— Beatrice-Elizabeth (@MissBeaE) June 7, 2017