Sessions controversy heightens Trump’s feeling of being under siege

The president was irritated that Mr. Sessions did not more carefully answer the questions he was asked under oath, according to people who spoke with him. His larger frustration, however, was not with Mr. Sessions, but with whoever revealed the meetings to reporters for The Washington Post.

Mr. Trump, according to his advisers inside and outside of the White House, has felt besieged by what he regards as a mostly hostile bureaucracy, consisting in part of Democrats and people who opposed his election who are now undermining his presidency with leaks. He believes that they are behind the stories about confusion and dysfunction in his administration and, most of all, that they have made his relationship with Russia a recurring issue.

“That is the real story,” said Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, when asked for comment on how the White House views the constant string of stories based on what they have called leaks. Several of those stories have raised questions about ties between the president’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials.

Allies of Mr. Trump say his sense of being surrounded by hostile forces will be relieved once his own appointments fill the thousands of political jobs that have not yet been filled. But people close to Mr. Trump concede that the White House’s sluggish hiring process, in which insufficient work was done to tap people for key deputy roles at major agencies during the transition process, is a large part of the problem.

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