Attorney General Jeff Sessions defends Trump criticism of judges

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday defended President Trump's criticism of the judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"It's right for the president, as he's done historically over the centuries, to express opinions about judicial opinions. They have a lifetime appointment. Their pay can't be cut and their decisions can be commented on. And the one that he criticized, I think, was wrong," Sessions said in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

Sessions said that the "greatest threat to the independence of the judiciary is if judges become more political and people cease to believe they're deciding opinions based on law and facts."

Asked if that's what he believes about the 9th Circuit, Sessions said, "I'm worried about it."

Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday about a judge's decision to temporarily block his executive order on sanctuary cities, pointing the finger at the 9th Circuit -- but it was a U.S. District Court judge that issued the preliminary injunction. If the administration appeals that decision, it would go to the 9th Circuit.

Sessions also talked about a 77 percent drop in illegal crossings at the U.S. border and despite the success, he still thinks a border wall is necessary.

"We're on the verge of creating what the American people have wanted for 30, 40 years, which is a lawful system of immigration. We admit 1.1 million each year to lawful permanent residence in the United States in an appropriate way. We need to end the illegality," he said.

The White House conceded on its demand to include border wall funding in a government-wide funding package that would last through Sept. 30. Sessions expressed confidence that the GOP-controlled Congress would eventually approve funding for the construction of the wall.

"We'll get funding for the wall. It's important to do so. I would just say that ... we could use some money this year, but it's not critical because this year ends September 30th," he said. "What we need is next year and move forward."

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.