Thursday, July 20, 2017

NY Times -- Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions

By Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt 
and Maggie Haberman

Trump said he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency. He called the decision “very unfair to the president.”

Trump complained that Sessions' decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.

Trump's public criticism of his attorney general Jeff Sessions is getting most of the news today, but the real importance of Trump’s interview with the Times was Trump setting the ground for firing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller if the Russian investigation comes up with a smoking gun. Trump will characterize the investigation as part of a Democratic and establishment plot to unseat him.

1. Of Rosenstein, a former federal prosecutor from Baltimore who appointed Mueller special counsel, Trump mused “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.” (For the record, Rosenstein is a Republican.)

2. Of Mueller, Trump said he was running an office “rife with conflicts of interest,” and reprised his past complaints that lawyers in Mueller’s office had contributed money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He also criticized Mueller, saying, “there were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

3. Asked if Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Trump said, “I would say yes.”

Trump believes his insurance policy is his base, who will believe it's all a conspiracy against him.
In edited audio excerpts from an interview with New York Times reporters, President Trump discussed Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump Jr., Robert S. Mueller III and the newly disclosed conversation he had with Vladimir V. Putin.