Looks like Jeff Sessions has less interest in returning to Donald Trump’s favor, at least in one sense. Trump has continued to make his former AG pay for the decision to recuse himself from the now-debunked Russia-collusion case by endorsing Sessions’ primary opponent in the race to win his old Senate seat back. On one hand, Sessions gives Trump an assist by agreeing with him that James Comey set a “perjury trap” against Michael Flynn in a politicized witch hunt aimed at Trump’s presidency, based on newly released documents in Flynn’s court case:
Jeff Sessions claims James Comey was the leader of a perjury trap and a setup against Michael Flynn pic.twitter.com/PckJ4A4IGz
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 1, 2020
On the other, Sessions tells Tucker Carlson that he tried to get Trump to fire Comey almost as soon as Trump took office:
Jeff Sessions tells Fox News’ @TuckerCarlson he told President Trump to remove James Comey: “I felt he should not continue from virtually day one of the administration and when I was asked by the President, it didn’t take me 30 seconds to say he should be removed.” pic.twitter.com/uDd4lP5Uaa
— TV News HQ (@TVNewsHQ) May 1, 2020
“I think people knew that I felt that he should not continue from virtually day one of the administration,” said Sessions, who is running for his old Senate seat in Alabama. “When I was asked by the president about it, it didn’t take me 30 seconds to say [that] my recommendation is that he be removed.” …
Sessions went on to slam Comey for taking advantage of the chaos surrounding the transition period to send two FBI agents to interview Flynn at the White House with no notice to the rest of the administration.
“They should have called the … White House counsel or chief of staff to ask for permission to interview a key member of the president’s administration,” he said. “Comey just laughs about how he got around that.”
In other words, Trump should have taken his advice and could have avoided a big mess — perhaps even the special counsel appointment by Rod Rosenstein. At least that’s what Sessions seems to imply here, but given that the investigation was well under way even before Trump’s inauguration, that seems an unlikely outcome. Firing Comey on January 21 would have created the same political storm that it did in May once news of the FBI probe leaked out. Neither would it have changed the circumstances of Sessions’ recusal, which was and is entirely defensible, no matter how Trump feels about it. Rosenstein could have run the probe himself, however, rather than turning to the awful special-counsel option.
Sessions does cleave to Trump on how they both see Comey, though — as a power-abusing elitist:
Sessions said he did not trust Comey to lead the FBI, saying, “Jim Comey did not believe he was bound by the rules. He thought he was above the rules. I did not feel good about his leadership at the FBI.”
“Those notes [on Flynn’s case] go back to Comey. Those are meetings that he led,” Sessions later added. “When they talked about conducting this interview, and, as he said, he sent them in, and he wouldn’t have done it against Obama. He wouldn’t have done it against Bush. It was in the first days of this administration, and that’s why he did it.”
Unfortunately, the Fox News site makes it almost impossible to get the whole Tucker Carlson interview, so follow the link back to watch it on the Fox site. Fortunately, Sessions went back on Fox this morning to make the same points at more length. Trump’s not the only one sore about Robert Mueller’s appointment, but Sessions blames Comey’s manipulations for that outcome.
Will Trump embrace Sessions’ remarks here — or use this to attack him? Sessions takes credit for cleaning out the top ranks of the FBI, which might not set well with Trump either, even though Sessions argues that Trump was “totally cleared.” Stick around for when Sessions gets confronted by the Trump campaign’s recent attacks on Session and still holds out hope for resurrecting his relationship with Trump. Good luck with that, pal.