President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions despite telling the New York Times he was disappointed in him for recusing himself from an FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“As the President said yesterday, he was disappointed in the Attorney General Sessions’ decision to recuse himself, but clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a press briefing on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Mr Sessions seemingly shrugged off the President’s public shaming.
“We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” Mr Sessions said on Thursday at a news conference announcing a cyber crime bust.
Mr Sessions was flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who were both also criticised by President Trump.
In the NYT interview, the Republican President also noted Mr Rosenstein’s roots in Democratic Baltimore and that Mr McCabe’s wife took money from a leading Democrat during a political campaign.
Mr Sessions recused himself in March from the probe into allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election and possible ties with the Trump campaign.
He did so after failing to disclose at his confirmation hearing that he had held meetings last year with Russia’s ambassador.
“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,” the NYT quoted President Trump as saying.
Mr Sessions was President Trump’s first supporter in the US Senate and helped shape his political team throughout the campaign and into the transition period after the November 8 election.
He declined to acknowledge the President’s criticism on Thursday.
“I have the honour of serving as attorney general. It’s something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself,” Mr Sessions said.
Similarly, Mr Rosenstein, when asked about President Trump’s remark that there were very few Republicans in Baltimore, declined to comment.
“I was proud to be here yesterday, I’m proud to be here today, I’ll be proud to work here tomorrow,” he said.