Trump lashes out at Justice officials
The interview cast Trump as a president under siege and seeking to strike out against those he feels have wronged him, including some of his most ardent supporters.
Here’s a list of people Trump critiqued in his interview with The New York Times:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Trump faulted Sessions — one of his oldest supporters — for accepting his offer to be attorney general and then recusing himself shortly thereafter due to undisclosed contacts he had with Russian officials during the campaign.
Trump said Session’s recusals was “very unfair.”
“Sessions,” Trump told The New York Times, “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 added: “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.”
Sessions recused himself from any investigation related to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, including the ongoing Russian probe, in March after a fraught confirmation hearing before the Senate where Sessions incorrectly said he had not met with any Russians during the campaign.
“Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” Trump said on Wednesday. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”
Former FBI Director James Comey
Trump told The Times that Comey, whom he fired in May, informed him about a salacious dossier so that he would have leverage over the soon-to-be president.
The dossier included a wide range of allegations, including salacious and unproven ones about Trump. CNN reported in February that investigators had corroborated some points in the dossier, but not the salacious details. In the interview, Trump said he had immediately written it off as false.
“In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump told The Times Wednesday.
Comey briefed then-President-elect Trump on the dossier during their first ever meeting on January 6 in Trump Tower.
In written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee, Comey said, “The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified.”
Among them, Comey wrote, were that they knew the media was pursuing the story and they wanted to blunt any sort of defensive briefing.
Trump said Wednesday that when Comey brought him the information, “I said this is really, made-up junk. I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about man, this is such a phony deal.”
During the same written testimony, Comey said that Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Trump said Wednesday that he doesn’t “remember even talking to him about any of the stuff.”
“He said I asked people to go,” Trump said. “Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, OK?”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Trump, according to The New York Times, said Mueller would cross a line should he begin to consider the Trump family finances that don’t deal with Russia.
“I think that’s a violation,” he said. “Look, this is about Russia.”
The President also faulted Mueller for meeting with him the day before the former FBI director was named special counsel.
“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Trump said. “Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
Trump also expressed discontent with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a memo to Trump shortly after assuming the job that recommended dismissing Comey but then appointed Mueller, whose probe includes whether Comey’s dismissal was obstruction of justice.
“That’s a conflict of interest,” Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”
Trump also expressed irritation when he learned Rosenstein was from Baltimore.
“There are very few Republicans in Baltimore,” he said, “if any.”
By Dan Merica