Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions still has the confidence of President Donald Trump, as far as she knows. But she said that the President is “disappointed” in Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from issues related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In an interview with the New York Times Thursday, Trump said it was “very unfair” for Sessions to have recused himself in March following revelations that he had indeed met with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the campaign, after telling the Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings that he had not met with any Russian nationals.
“As the President said yesterday, he was disappointed in the Attorney General Session’s decision to recuse himself,” Sanders said in an off-camera press briefing, according to a transcript provided by the White House.
She added: “But clearly he has confidence in him, or he would not be the attorney general.”
Sanders said later she didn’t know whether Trump and Sessions had spoken during the past 24 hours. In March, asked if he thought Sessions should have recused himself, Trump said: “I don’t think so at all.”
Sessions said earlier Thursday that he would continue to serve in the position as long as it was “appropriate.”
“Sarah, can I follow up on that one?” a reporter asked. “You said the President has confidence in the attorney general. Does the President believe that the attorney general serves the President or the Constitution?”
“I believe that the President — I think that’s kind of a both,” Sanders said. “Obviously, the attorney general’s job is to follow and uphold the Constitution. But also, every member of the Cabinet and the administration serves at the pleasure of the President.”
One reporter asked about Trump’s comment to the Times, that if Sessions had told him ahead of time that he would have to recuse himself from matters related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election — even though Sessions announced his recusal in March — Trump would not have offered him the job in the first place.
“So does he regret now in retrospect appointing Jeff Sessions?” the reporter asked.
“I haven’t asked him specifically,” Sanders replied.