Watch CBSN Live

Reactions to Trump's treatment of Jeff Sessions

Trump vs. Sessions

President Trump has made clear in recent days that he's not happy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and there are reports that he's considering firing him, which has prompted reaction from some lawmakers.

On Monday, Mr. Trump called Sessions, a former senator, "beleaguered" and he tweeted Tuesday, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!"

Here's what members and senators are saying about Sessions:

Paul Ryan, House Speaker

CBS News' Nancy Cordes asked Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, on Tuesday if he's concerned that the president is laying the groundwork to fire Sessions, make a recess appointment, which could lead to the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"Look, the President gets to decide what his personnel is, you all know that...he's the executive branch, we're the legislative branch. He determines who is hired and fired in the executive branch. That's his prerogative. If he has questions or concerns or problems with the attorney general, I'm sure he'll bring it up with him himself," Ryan said.

Asked if that would be considered obstruction of justice, Ryan added, "It's up to the president to determine what his personnel decisions is, and any possible fallout that comes from that. If he has concerns about anyone in the administration and their conduct of their jobs, I'm sure he's going to talk to them directly."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina

In a statement, Graham called the president's tweet "inappropriate."

"President Trump's tweet today suggesting Attorney General Sessions pursue prosecution of a former political rival is highly inappropriate," Graham said. "Prosecutorial decisions should be based on applying facts to the law without hint of political motivation. To do otherwise is to run away from the long-standing American tradition of separating the law from politics regardless of party."

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina

Tillis, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said of Sessions in a statement that Sessions was "widely respected" while he was a senator, and he defended Sessions' recusal from the Russia probe.

"While some may argue that he should not have recused himself from the Russia investigation, Attorney General Sessions demonstrated good judgment by doing so and removed all appearances of a potential conflict," Tillis wrote. "The Attorney General's recusal was ultimately made in the best interests of the Department of Justice and the country." 

Tillis told reporters that "the best way to really restore the confidence of the American people is know where the line is and take a step back, and that's what he's done." He said he thinks Sessions is "doing a good job [at the Justice Department], and I look forward to him continuing to serve."

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama

Shelby, Sessions' fellow Alabama senator, tweeted that he supports him as attorney general.

"I join the people of Alabama in giving Jeff Sessions my deep respect and unwavering support."

Earlier Tuesday, the president also prodded Sessions about "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage the Trump campaign," asking on Twitter, "So where is the investigation, A.G." And last week, in an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Trump said he would never have appointed Sessions to be attorney general if he'd known he would recuse himself in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

CBS News' Walt Cronkite and Duncan McKenna contributed to this report. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue