And so it begins….
In an exclusive interview today with the New York Times, the President blisteringly excoriated the Independent Counsel and the top tier of the Justice Department.
According to the Times “Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions.”
President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”
The Times, in an article published in tandem with the front page article linked above, printed a transcript from the interview: “Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump.”
Unless the Attorney General had access to a time machine when he was appointed, it’s impossible to see where he could have known he would have to recuse himself at a later date when Congress began to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
According to the Washington Post the President had this to say about AG Sessions’ recusal:
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
And Mr. Trump (or “the president” as he refers to himself) didn’t stop with venting his frustration with his pick for AG, but went after the people heading up the DoJ and IC Mueller.
The President had extremely harsh words for a laundry list of people serving at Justice.
Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who previous to working at the DoJ served as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore, is considered unfit because:
“There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” Trump said.
— from the Washington Post “Trump blasts AG Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe”
The Times “Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump” showcases the president as he rambles and ambles and dissembles on disparate subjects, often in the same paragraph.
In this long interview Trump circumnavigates the conversation with topics like Bastille Day and Operas and Napoleon vs. Hitler when he was speaking with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. He grumbles and gambols in speaking about Comey and then his amazing election victory. He talks around and about the importance of the Senate repealing Obamacare and yet how tough it is to take away insurance from people with pre-existing conditions.
And he even circles around to talking about the G20 and dinners (he says all he spoke to Putin about at dinner was “adoptions.”)
You can hear some of the audio of the Times interview HERE.
In the Times’ interview we find the following blistering criticism from Trump about:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.
Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:
TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.
TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe:
TRUMP: I mean, look at what we have now. We have a director of the F.B.I., acting, who received $700,000, whose wife received $700,000 from, essentially, Hillary Clinton. ’Cause it was through Terry. Which is Hillary Clinton.
MAGGIE HABERMAN: This is [Andrew] McCabe’s wife, you mean?
TRUMP: McCabe’s wife. She got $700,000, and he’s at the F.B.I. I mean, how do you think that? But when you say that — and think about this for a second. I don’t think — you could give me a whole string of new information. I don’t think I could really have — there’s only so much. You know, you can only say many things. After that it gets boring, O.K.? How can it be better than deleting emails after you get a subpoena from the United States Congress? Guys go to jail for that, when they delete an email from a civil case. Here, she gets an email from the United States Congress —
...and in regards to Independent Counsel Robert Mueller:
SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?
HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes.
Then about the in-coming Director of the FBI, Chris Wray, Trump speaks to how he sees his relationship should be with the FBI and the new director...it almost reads like the president wants Wray to be a direct report to him.
The phrase “loyalty oath” comes to mind when reading the following:
TRUMP: And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting. You know, which is interesting. And I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director.
Former U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump, tweeted:
The President has some extremely harsh words for a laundry list of people serving at Justice that may not be necessarily looking at all the president’s “dirty laundry,” but they may be more focused on any possible “money laundromat” that the Trump organization could have been operating with Russian involvement.
Perhaps there is a clue in the following story that has the president so very unnerved. Today, in a article buried pages behind the front page, the Times printed this: “Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny.”
Banking regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit, which caters to an ultrarich clientele, according to three people briefed on the review who were not authorized to speak publicly. The regulators want to know if the loans might expose the bank to heightened risks.
Separately, Deutsche Bank has been in contact with federal investigators about the Trump accounts, according to two people briefed on the matter. And the bank is expecting to eventually have to provide information to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks decapitating the Department of Justice is the way to go to squash Mueller’s investigation.
However that strategy boomeranged on the president when he thought getting rid of the Director of the FBI, Jim Comey...as he told the Russian ambassador...relieved “great pressure” on him. Instead it bought him Independent Counsel Robert Muller.
The experts Mueller has brought together in forensic accounting and prosecution of corruption have their work cut out for them.
If...the President of the United States allows them to do it.
If not...we have a crisis on our hands.