Although he has faced withering attacks by the president, Sessions has the support of many conservatives and cabinet members.
The Washington Post reports that Jody Hunt, Sessions’ chief of staff, recently told Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, that Sessions had no intention of stepping down. Hunt reportedly said that Sessions “plans to move forward with his agenda in the department and he has no plans for resigning.”
With Sessions firmly in place, the question becomes whether President Trump is angry enough to fire Sessions himself. When reporters asked this question of Trump, he answered, “We’ll see what happens,” the same phrase he used prior to firing FBI Director James Comey.
Trump’s problems with Sessions stem from the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from matters dealing with Russia’s meddling in the US presidential elections. Sessions made the decision to recuse himself in March after it was revealed that he did not disclose two meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“I’m disappointed in the attorney general,” Trump said. “If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have picked somebody else. It’s a bad thing not just for the president, but also for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency.”
Trump also criticized other areas of Sessions’ performance in a series of tweets. The president accused Ukrainians of working to help Hillary’s campaign and asked why Sessions was not investigating the Ukrainian meddling. He also accused Sessions of being weak on Hillary’s crimes and leakers.
It is unprecedented for a sitting president to attack a sitting cabinet member so harshly.
The Post reports that senior aides are encouraging the president to sit down with Sessions so that the two can work out their differences. So far, these efforts have been fruitless.
As the attacks go on, it will become harder to repair the damage between the president and the nation’s top lawyer. Even though Sessions is digging in his heels, his allies say that he is angry with how the president is treating him.