The relationship between President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on the decline, and sources allege that Sessions went so far as to offer to resign from his position.
It is unclear when Sessions made the offer, which the Wall Street Journal reported was not a formal one, and Trump turned him down. But sources and public comments from the president indicate that Trump is not happy with Sessions and has cast blame for certain incidents on his Justice Department.
According to an ABC News exclusive, the relationship became strained when Sessions recused himself from hearings pertaining to the Russia investigation.
“Multiple sources say the recusal is one of the top disappointments of his presidency so far and one the president has remained fixated on,” the outlet reported.
Sessions recused himself in March, and the president was reportedly not aware of the decision until just moments before Sessions announced it. And three months later, Trump supposedly remains irked.
“Two sources close to the president say he has lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general in private meetings, blaming the recusal for the expansion of the Russia investigation, now overseen by Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller,” according to ABC.
Meanwhile, Trump has publicly bashed his own Justice Department, headed by Sessions, on Twitter, notably for its “watered down, politically correct” version of the president’s Muslim ban.
Trump’s anger is questionable, as he is the one who signed both orders.
According to the New York Times, it is not uncommon for private tensions to brew between federal agencies and the president. But Trump has changed course by making his discontent public.
“They wholly undercut the idea that there is some rational process behind the president’s decisions,” Walter E. Dellinger, acting solicitor general for former President Bill Clinton, told the Times. “I believe it is unprecedented for a president to publicly chastise his own Justice Department.”
Sessions’ appointment to head the Justice Department has been questioned since his nomination due to his bleak record on civil rights. Sessions is considered to have an “anti-civil rights” Senate voting record by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Specifically, Sessions has voted in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage; against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and against an amendment to expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. Sessions has also voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, has opposed the Voting Rights Act and is opposed to immigration reform.
Beyond his voting record, Sessions also once referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a “disgrace to his race” for taking on voting rights cases and called the Voting Rights Act (VRA) a “piece of intrusive legislation.” He has called civil rights groups such as the ACLU and the NAACP “un-American,” and also said he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I found out they smoked pot.”