You know you are on the outs with the President when he not only unleashes an army of citizen trolls on you, but demotes you from plural to singular. President Trump posted another controversial tweet this morning in asking why he is being investigated but not his predecessor or the Democrats. He tells supporters to Just “Ask Jeff Session.” Attorney General Sessions appears to still be the persona non grata and, if anything, diminishing by the day.
The President tweeted:
Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Session!
There are in fact calls for Democrats to be investigated and evidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may indeed have looked into the lobbying effort of Tony Podesta and his Podesta Group.
The merits of this argument (which are being advanced by others with little need of presidential involvement) is beside the point. The repeated digs at Trump’s own Attorney General are disconcerting and inappropriate. This follows reports that Trump has discussed firing Sessions and giving a recess appointment to his successor. Trump is clearly still angry that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, but what does the president hope to gain in a one-sided verbal war with one of his most loyal supporters? Sessions, Trump’s most loyal supporter in the Senate during the presidential campaign, acted entirely appropriately in recusing himself from the Russian investigation, despite Trump’s recent statement that he would never have appointed him if he knew Sessions would recuse himself. By insisting that Sessions should not have recused, Trump is saying Sessions should have taken an unethical path, ignoring the views of the Justice Department ethics lawyers he consulted. Similarly, Trump’s suggestion that Sessions should have opened up investigations into the president’s 2016 general election opponent and the Democrats contradicts long-standing rules against political influence over Justice Department investigations.
It is simply bizarre for a president to organize a pressure campaign against his own attorney general as if he is still running for office. Moreover, Sessions is no deep-state mole. He did the President a service by taking the ethical route. Had Trump not fired Comey, it is likely that the Russian investigation would have been concluded by now. The correct approach was to stand aside and let the investigation run its course. The President continues to reject that advice and lash out at Sessions. What is missing is any discernible strategic or tactical goal achieved by these tweets.