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Trump’s beef with Sessions is reaching the point of no return

The last 24 hours gave a rare public glimpse into a relationship that has soured dramatically.

Donald Trump wants his attorney general Jeff Sessions to uphold the independence of the judiciary — but also go after a laundry list of Trump’s personal grievances.

Having spent Thursday defending convicted felon Paul Manafort, Trump began Friday by calling on his beleaguered attorney general to launch investigations into his political enemies. The resulting back-and-forth over the last 24 hours gave a rare public glimpse into a relationship that has soured dramatically since the Alabama lawmaker became the first senator to endorse Trump for president and ultimately, the head of his Justice Department.


So that there was no confusion about who Sessions should be investigating, Trump went ahead and listed out his enemies: FBI director James Comey, special counsel Robert Mueller, former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, the Clinton Foundation, the Obama administration, the Democrats, and of course, Hillary Clinton.

Trump called on Sessions to look into all the illegal activity he claims is taking place on the “other side.”

Trump also referenced the five-year prison sentence handed down to NSA whistleblower Reality Winner on Thursday and said her leaking of classified documents was “small potatoes compared to what Clinton did.

Trump’s initial tweet referenced a rare rebuke issued by Sessions Thursday night, in which he assured the public that the Justice Department would remain impartial, despite the numerous scandals swirling around the president. Namely, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to using campaign funds as hush money for two women who claimed to have slept with the president.

“I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in,” Sessions said. “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Sessions was, in turn, responding to an accusation leveled at him by Trump during an interview with Fox & Friends earlier in the day, where the president said he had appointed an attorney general “who never took control of the justice department.”


Soon after Trump appointed Sessions as his attorney general, their relationship went south when Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation, a decision Trump has never forgiven him for. Trump once again repeated that point on Thursday. According to Trump, Sessions "took the job and then he said, 'I'm going to recuse myself.' I said what kind of a man is this?”

But Sessions has typically remained stoic in the face of public criticism from the president, who has repeatedly called him “weak” and “beleaguered” for failing to investigate Clinton and the Obama administration.

Sessions statement on Thursday, however, suggests he may have reached a breaking point.

Now, speculation is growing that Sessions may be fired after November’s midterms. Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters Thursday: “I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice.”

Aside from attacking Sessions directly, Trump has also called into question how the DOJ and other departments — and thus the rule of law — function in the U.S. When discussing Cohen’s plea deal Thursday, Trump suggested that cooperating with law enforcement, or “flipping” as he described, should be made illegal. He has also revoked the security clearances of former intelligence officials like John Brennan, which denies serving members of the three-letter agencies access to a deep well of experience and knowledge.

Critics worry the president’s smear campaign in these areas will do much more lasting damage to the justice system.

Cover image: Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, sits at the first work session of the North Atlantic council at the NATO Summit. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images