President Trump on Wednesday said he regrets his decision to pick Jeff Sessions as attorney general, the latest sign of his growing anger over the Russia investigation.
Citing Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who said earlier on CBS that Trump “could have picked somebody else” to lead the Justice Department, the president responded, “I wish I did!”
Gowdy was asked whether Trump obstructed justice when he reportedly asked Sessions early last year to reverse his decision to rescue himself from the Russia probe, an interaction reported Tuesday by The New York Times.
In comments later quoted by Trump, Gowdy said Trump was merely “expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward.”
“There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” Trump wrote, quoting Gowdy.
The president has lashed out at a variety of targets as the Russia investigation has moved closer to his inner circle, including special counsel Robert Mueller and now Sessions.
Sessions, a former Alabama senator and top Trump campaign backer, decided to recuse himself from the probe after it was revealed he had not disclosed contacts with Russia’s U.S. ambassador during the 2016 presidential race.
That decision angered Trump, who viewed it as the ultimate betrayal. The president has said publicly he wants an attorney general who will shield him legally and politically.
“If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you,’” Trump told the Times in July 2017. “It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
The Times reported that Mueller is probing the interaction between Sessions and the president in his effort to determine whether Trump obstructed the investigation into ties between Moscow’s election interference and the Trump campaign.
Trump, however, has not shied away from attacking Sessions, blasting him as “weak” for not heeding his calls to launch an investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.
Aides say the president has not fired Sessions, however, because he understands it would draw even more legal and political backlash.
Instead, Trump has chosen to attack Mueller and his investigators in an effort to undermine the credibility of the probe.
Gowdy rebutted one of the president’s main line of attacks, that the Obama administration embedded a spy on his campaign in order to benefit Clinton. In fact, the FBI used a confidential source who met with several Trump associates suspected of having contacts with Russians.
“I don’t know what the FBI could have done or should have done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia,” Gowdy said on CBS.
Trump did not cite those remarks on Twitter.