Trey Gowdy says Trump's public criticism of Sessions "not helpful"

As President Trump continues to publicly critique Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, says the president's comments on Sessions are "not helpful."

"I think you ought to praise in public and critique in private," Gowdy said on "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday.

"You shouldn't make personnel decisions, particularly at the Cabinet level, via Twitter," he added. "It's a really hard job, the attorney general doesn't work for the president, he works for a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales."

The Republican's comments come after Mr. Trump's repeated admonishments of Sessions, saying he took "very weak" positions, was "beleaguered", and reiterated that he was "very disappointed" with Sessions during a Tuesday press conference with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon.

Gowdy said he understands Mr. Trump's frustrations over the Russia probe, saying that Sessions should have been "more forthcoming" about his interactions with Russian diplomats, but he suggested the matter is "best discussed in private between two grown-ups."

"Doing this publicly, I don't think helps our justice system," Gowdy said.

Fellow lawmakers have also come out publicly against Mr. Trump's comments and sided with their former colleague, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who called the president's critical tweets "inappropriate."

Gowdy said he approved of Sessions recusing himself from the ongoing Russia investigation, saying that he had "no choice" in the matter, but said he should have told everyone about every meeting he encountered, adding that lawmakers "shouldn't have to wait on the New York Times to tell us."

"If I were interviewing people for the attorney general job, I would want to know is there any reason you can't do the job, or any cases you'd need to recuse yourself from," Gowdy said, adding that Jeff Sessions "isn't the only person qualified to be attorney general in America."

When pressed on Mr. Trump's possible intentions to fire Sessions and bring in a new attorney general during the August recess, Gowdy said that he was not supportive of recess appointments. 

"I didn't like when Obama did it, it circumvents the Constitution," he said.

In 2013, a federal appeals court ruled that under the Constitution, recess appointments can be made only between sessions of the Senate, not any time the Senate is away on a break.

Gowdy added that he didn't think the president would follow through on a recess appointment. CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports that incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says Mr. Trump is not considering such a move. 

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital