The pressure President Trump put on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation extended beyond the March 2017 Mar-a-Lago conversation reported by the New York Times this week.
Unnamed sources detailed to Axios in a Thursday report additional discussions Trump had with Sessions over the phone and in person about his recusal. Two sources told Axios that Trump stopped short of ordering Sessions to undo his recusal, but rather told the attorney general he’d be a “hero” among conservatives if he did “the right thing” and reasserted oversight of the investigation. The probe is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
According to one of Axios’ sources, Trump also encouraged Sessions to open an investigation into Hillary Clinton, who continues to be the subject of “lock her up chants” at Trump rallies.
These conversations continued from March through the end of last year, Axios reported.
Sessions has said he was following Justice Department protocols in recusing himself from the Russia investigation. He also said in his confirmation hearing he would recuse himself from investigations into Clinton and any probes linked to the 2016 campaign.
Nevertheless, Trump has raged publicly and privately about Sessions’ recusal, and even Tweeted Wednesday that he regretted picking Sessions as an attorney general.
Both the White House and a Sessions spokeswoman declined to comment on the Axios report.