WASHINGTON (CNN) — White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday declined to say whether President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“I have not had a discussion with him about that,” Spicer said as sources said Trump is still fuming over Sessions’ recusal from the federal investigation into potential ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
Pressed repeatedly on the topic, Spicer said he simply had not talked to Trump about the matter and added: “If I have not had a discussion with him about a subject I tend not to speak about it.”
The press secretary’s striking refusal to reaffirm the President’s confidence in his attorney general came as reports surfaced about the President’s lingering frustrations with his attorney general’s recusal and a day after Trump took to Twitter to critique his own Justice Department, which is led by Sessions.
“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to (the Supreme Court,” Trump tweeted on Monday.
An administration official told CNN that Trump’s frustration with Sessions dates back to May 2, when Sessions suddenly recused himself from the Russia investigation amid pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Sessions’ recusal “has thrown a lot of this into a tail spin,” the official said, setting off a chain reaction that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Spicer last month declined to say whether Trump had confidence in his FBI Director James Comey hours before Comey was suddenly fired.
Trump’s relationship with Sessions, though, is much stronger and longer-standing than his relationship ever was with Comey.
Sessions was the first sitting US senator to endorse Trump and became one of his top advisers on the campaign trail. A slew of former Sessions aides also serve in top White House positions.