Update: In an apparent response to President Trump's criticisms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday that the Department of Justice “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” Defending his leadership, Sessions said, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action,” Sessions said. "I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President's agenda," Sessions released the statement just hours after the president said that Sessions "never took control of the Justice Department."
In a much-anticipated interview, President Donald Trump told Ainsley Earhardt of Fox News “Fox and Friends” that attorney Michael Cohen had worked for him "part-time" and that the lawyer "flipped" on him. During the interview, which aired on Thursday, the president also discussed Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman.
Referring to Cohen, Trump said, “It almost ought to be outlawed,” he said. “It’s not fair…If you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. … And I have seen it many times. I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.”
The president also told Earhardt that he has “great respect” for Manafort, while affirming that some of the latter’s practices are similar to what “every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.” Democrats and some media outlets have suggested that if the president should pardon Manafort, impeachment of the president and subsequent criminal prosecution would ensue. However, Trump predicted that the “market would crash” if he's ever impeached. Questioning why his opponents would choose to impeach him, he said, “I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job.”
'The market would crash'
He warned, “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking, you would see — you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse.” He touted the nation’s economy and claimed that it would be “down” if he had not been elected. “I freed up, I got rid of regulations, the tax cut was a tremendous thing,” Trump said. The president added, “Had Hillary and the Democrats gotten in, had she been president, you would have had negative growth. We picked up $10 trillion worth.”
Earhardt asked the president about the murder of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, the apparent victim of an illegal immigrant. Calling Tibbetts a “beautiful young girl,” the president said, “She was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here. Found by ICE, our great ICE who’s abused by the Democrats and the left. And without them, you might not be sitting here so comfortably right now. I just think it’s so sad.” Trump said that Democrats continue to hold up the building of a border wall, which he has long said will stem the influx of illegal aliens. He said, “We’re building the wall. It’s already started. We’ve spent $3.2 billion on it. We’re asking for $5 billion for this year’s funding. The wall is going up. A lot of people don’t know it.” Trump said that he would “like to build it even faster,” but said working with Democrats is “very tough.”
“We’re doing an incredible job,” Trump said. The president said the his administration is “doing a record-breaking job, but we have bad laws,” with regard to immigration enforcement. “You know when you have bad laws you can do good. But you can do a lot better if you had good laws. So they’ll all get changed, but we have to elect more Republicans,” Trump said.
As for the job he has done so far in his presidency, Trump said that he would give himself and his presidency an “A plus.”
“I don’t think any president has ever done what I’ve done in this short, we haven’t even been two years, biggest tax cuts in history, soon-to-be two unbelievable Supreme Court justices—I’m sure that Justice Kavanaugh will be approved, Justice [Neil] Gorsuch has been a star,” Trump said. “You look at all of the things we’ve done with regulations, the economy is the best it’s ever been in history.”
'What kind of man is this?'
Trump also appeared to seriously criticize Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the interview. He said, “I put in an Attorney General who never took control of the Justice Department. And it’s sort of an incredible thing. We have this country going so well… I wanted to stay un-involved.” In a reference to the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into supposed Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said, “Jeff Sessions recused himself and should have told me. What kind of man is this? He knows there was no collusion.”
"It's a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn't have done or he should have told me," he said. "Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in."
Earlier, Trump criticized Sessions in a tweet that said that the attorney general is "scared stiff and Missing in Action." Trump did not answer during the interview whether he plans to fire Sessions or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation.
"I will stay uninvolved and maybe that's the best thing to do," he said.
Not until after the mid-term
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said on Thursday that he believes it is “very likely” Trump will dismiss Sessions. Graham told Bloomberg News that Trump is entitled to an attorney general he has faith in. He said that soon "...it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice.” However, Graham warned that replacing Sessions before the November election “would create havoc” with Senate efforts to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.