Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III got his feelings hurt.
In his first public interview since President Donald Trump decided to make his less than charitable feelings toward Sessions a matter of public record, Sessions told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Thursday night that the way Trump has treated him lately has been “kind of hurtful.”
Trump has been furious at Sessions for months because Sessions recused himself from any involvement in the FBI’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And in recent days, that criticism has spilled into public view as the president has mocked and criticized Sessions in an apparent effort to force him to quit.
Yet Sessions says he still believes he made the right choice by recusing himself from the Russia probe.
“I’m confident I made the right decision,” he told Carlson. “The decision is consistent with the rule of law. And an attorney general who doesn’t follow the law is not very effective in leading the Department of Justice.”
“I serve at the pleasure of the president. If he wants to make a change, he can certainly do so,” Sessions added. Perhaps to avoid that outcome, he made sure to remind Trump — who was almost certainly watching the interview on one of the TVs he had installed in the White House to feed his cable news addiction — of their shared beliefs on cracking down on immigration, transnational gangs, and prosecuting leakers.
“He wants all of us to do our jobs, and that’s what I intend to do”
He also made sure to flatter the president. "The president of the United States is a strong leader," Sessions told Carlson. "He has had a lot of criticisms and he’s steadfastly determined to get his job done, and he wants all of us to do our jobs, and that’s what I intend to do."
In sum, the five-minute interview revealed a man clearly struggling with how the president is treating him in public but still committed to serving the administration’s agenda until he’s relieved from duty.
Rumors are swirling that Trump might fire Sessions if he doesn’t quit. But a number of Republicans in Congress have spoken out in defense of their former colleague — with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) going so far as warning Trump that “if Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.”
It’s unclear what Sessions can do at this point to get back in the president’s good graces. Meeting with the president face to face might be a good start, but Sessions says there are no plans to make that happen anytime soon.
“I don’t think it’s on the calendar yet,” he told Carlson.