Russia Investigation: Mueller Reviewing Trump's Pursuits This Past Summer To Get Rid Of Sessions

Rhett Wilkinson

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has been examining a period of time last summer when President Donald Trump appeared fixed on getting Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of his job, said persons with knowledge of the issue. They remarked that a significant research point in the investigation is if those workings figured into a design of pursued obstruction of justice that lasted for months, reported The Washington Post.

The Mueller unit has asked witnesses about specifics as of late regarding Trump's intimate remarks and thought processes in late July and early August of last year. That's about when he wrote several tweets disparaging Sessions, these individuals remarked. The inquiries' main intent was to learn if Trump's objective was to get rid of Sessions so Trump could to select a successor who would command the investigation into Russia and Trump colleagues perhaps colluding over the course of the 2016 election, the individuals told the Post.

The problem of Sessions' damaged connection with Trump returned to the surface Wednesday in a Trump tweet.

"As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution,'' Sessions stated.

Officials in Washington know that the connection between the attorney general and Trump has, for months, been in terrible shape. Many times, Trump has made highly critical remarks of Sessions, blasting his direction of the Justice Department or calling him "weak" "despite the attorney general's frequent proclamations of devotion to Trump's agenda on immigration and crime," reported the Post.

Trump, privately, has mockingly called Sessions "Mr. Magoo," a cartoon who is shortsighted, botching, and old, say persons who Trump has spoken with. Trump has remarked claims to colleagues that he has selected top-notch attorneys throughout his life but can't fire Sessions, who Trump says is not advocating for him and is not committed enough, the Post reported.

Sessions has remarked to colleagues that he has been hurt by the onslaught, but that he's not planning on quitting.

"So the cold war continues," reported the Post.

On the one-year mark of Sessions' confirmation on Feb. 7, high-level staff determined it would purchase a gift for Sessions in the form of a bulletproof vest with his name on it, a person familiar with the matter told the Post.

With a "soap-opera element," wrote the Post, to the Trump-Sessions conflict, Mueller reportedly has determined there are pivotal problems at hand for the investigation into if Trump or White House personnel aimed to obstruct justice, individuals with knowledge of the issue told the Post.

Mueller was investigating Trump's pursuit this past spring to terminate Sessions, The New York Times reported last month. Persons with knowledge of the examination said Mueller is also investigating a span of time in late July when Trump looked to embarrass Sessions in the open, hoping the attorney general would resign.

Spokesmen for the special counsel, White House, and Justice Department refused to speak with the Post.

Trump began slamming Sessions more in mid-July, which involved "angry tweets," as the Post reported. Trump in that time talked firing Sessions or making sure he was no longer in of the Justice Department, persons with knowledge of the private deliberations told the Post. Mueller's researchers are specifically interested in those deliberations since they are looking to make a decision about Trump's motives, a person with knowledge of the investigation told the Post.

A White House staff member back then remarked to a Post reporter that Trump was "stunned" that Sessions hadn't resigned yet. Trump had been looking forward to the attorney general becoming so dismayed by Trump's harsh criticisms that he would quit.

During this time, Trump also told Reince Priebus, his chief of staff at the time, to obtain a letter of resignation from Sessions. It was not the first time Trump wanted that type of letter. But Priebus did ask for the letter straightaway. Conservatives, especially in Congress, then supported Sessions, particularly in Congress. Trump's advocacy de-intensified, the Post reported.

At any time for any reason, a president can fire any Cabinet official.

"If Mueller's team sought to make Trump's efforts to oust the attorney general part of a pattern of attempted obstruction, it would have to offer evidence showing he had a corrupt motive in doing so — such as changing the direction of the Russia probe," read the article, written by Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Rosalind S. Helderman.

Trump's Wednesday criticism appeared to have an additional objective at the Justice Department: Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz. For a year-plus, his office has been looking into how the FBI and Justice Department managed the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton's utilization of a private email server when she was secretary of state. What he learned should be made public soon, according to the Post.

Trump's remarks Wednesday appeared to have two intentions: slam Sessions, and plead for Horowitz to release his findings quicker. The White House and some of Trump's conservative congressional backers have wanted a second special counsel to carry out a criminal investigation into how Justice Department and FBI staff managed issues regarding Clinton, the Post reported.

Persons with long ties to the Justice Department have been concerned for some time that Trump's continued harsh criticisms in the open on the department and FBI threaten each of their legitimacy, and the result could be significant harm to law enforcement by the federal government, according to the Post.

"The continued drumbeat of overheated attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI, coming from all corners of the Hill, the media, and elsewhere, can't help but undermine both morale and the legitimacy of institutions themselves, but today's tweet is just another drop in an already overflowing bucket," Jamil Jaffer, founder of the National Security Institute at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, told the Post. "Of course, the bigger challenge is that if the concerns aren't legitimate, then we are playing right into the hands of those abroad who wish to undermine these very critical institutions of our democracy."