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Trump intensifies criticism of own attorney general

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 20: Attorney General Jeff Sessions (C), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) and other law enforcement officials hold a news conference to announce an ‘international cybercrime enforcement action’ at the Department of Justice July 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump said Wednesday in an interview with the New York Times that he never would have appointed Sessions had he known Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Donald Trump’s war of words against his attorney general and one-time ally Jeff Sessions escalated Monday, raising speculation the president may be preparing the ground to replace him.

Trump and his advisers are in fact talking about the possibility of replacing Sessions, The Washington Post reported Monday evening, quoting people familiar with these discussions.

Trump earlier took to Twitter to declare his top law enforcement official “beleaguered” as he wondered out loud why Sessions was not investigating 2016 presidential candidate and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” Trump asked.

US presidents normally avoid being seen as influential on ongoing or possible investigations at all costs.

But it is Trump’s comments about his erstwhile friend that have raised eyebrows.

Trump has expressed increasing anger with Sessions as his Justice Department’s investigations into possible Trump-Russia collusion has quickened.

Last week, Trump publicly upbraided Sessions for stepping back from issues related to the probe.

Sessions recused himself because of his role on Trump’s campaign and previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador in Washington.

Trump said he would never have hired Sessions had he known he would recuse himself.

“I think is very unfair to the president,” Trump told The New York Times last week. “It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”

Sessions said he had no plans to resign.

That increasingly appears problematic for Trump, as he struggles to influence an investigation that has ensnared his eldest son, son-in-law and top aides.

In May, Trump fired FBI director James Comey over the bureau’s investigation into Russia.

That led to the appointment of high-powered special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

The Post report said Trump associates see getting rid of Sessions as part of a potential strategy to fire Mueller and end the Russia investigation.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, the website Axios reported that Trump was considering replacing Sessions with another early supporter, Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor.

If he were confirmed by Congress, that appointment could open the door to Trump firing Mueller or having an attorney general who can directly influence the investigation. Sessions cannot because he has recused himself.

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