When the president is an authoritarian who thinks the Attorney General should work for him personally — not over overlooking crimes related to his administration but punishing his political enemies over nothing — it’s hard for even really bad ones to be bad enough:
President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.
Members of Trump’s circle, including White House officials, have increasingly raised the question among themselves in recent days as the president has continued to vent his frustration with the attorney general, the people said.
Replacing Sessions is viewed by some Trump associates as potentially being part of a strategy to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and end his investigation of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
On Tuesday, Trump renewed his attack on Sessions, accusing him on Twitter of taking a “VERY weak position” on alleged “crimes” by Hillary Clinton and intelligence leakers.
The president had taken another swipe at Sessions on Monday, calling his attorney general “our beleaguered A.G.” and asking why Sessions was not “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?”
Both points are notable. Sessions was once considered one of Trump’s closest advisers and enjoyed access few others had. Now he is left to endure regular public criticism by his boss.
Trump’s suggestion, too, that his top law enforcement official investigate a former political rival is astounding, and even his allies have said in the past that such a move would be unheard of in the United States. Trump, after the election, had backed away from the idea of possibly prosecuting Hillary Clinton.
Sessions’s tight relationship with Trump and the White House has unraveled since he recused himself in March from the Russia probe. The president had privately complained about that decision for weeks, and in an interview with the New York Times last week he said he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general had he known that Sessions would do such a thing.
As with Comey only worse, Sessions obviously deserves to be fired, which doesn’t make his being fired for a rare moment of displaying integrity any less disturbing.