Speaking on Fox News on Thursday morning, President Trump slammed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to control the scope of the Mueller investigation — and for allowing that investigation in the first place. Sessions recused himself from all matters involving investigation into Russian collusion thanks to his involvement in the Trump campaign. “I put an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department,” Trump stated. “Jeff Sessions never took control of the Justice Department. It’s sort of an incredible thing… It’s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn’t have put him in.”
A few hours later, Sessions fought back, implicitly slamming Trump. He released the following statement:
I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President’s agenda – one that protects the safety and security of the American people, reduces violent crime, enforces our immigration laws, promotes economic growth, and advances religious liberty.
While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action. However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the United States.
I am proud to serve with them and proud of the work we have done in successfully advancing the rule of law.
This statement does more than just slam Trump. It implicitly sets up the narrative that if Trump fires Sessions, he will be obstructing justice — Sessions is saying that he stands between the president and Robert Mueller’s investigation. If he were to be removed, Sessions implies, the DOJ would be “improperly influenced by political considerations.”
It’s a shot across Trump’s bow. Trump has thus far avoided actually crossing swords with Sessions, despite his public fulminations.