Rantt Rundown: With Sessions Feud, Trump Continues To Build His Own Obstruction Case

Day 496 of the Trump presidency

President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va. Dec. 15, 2017 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va. Dec. 15, 2017 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Trump appears to think the role of Attorney General is that of a personal fixer.

President Trump has repeatedly expressed his disdain for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions recused himself in March of 2017 because he was a member of the Trump campaign and it would be a clear conflict of interest to oversee an investigation he could be a subject of (that didn’t stop him from helping to craft the letter firing FBI Director James Comey though). A recent report from The New York Times revealed that Trump personally implored Sessions to reverse this decision.

By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

And this wasn’t the first time he tried. In January, The New York Times reported that ahead of Sessions’ decision, Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to lobby Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986.

Trump has reiterated the sentiment on many occasions, as he did today, that he if knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation he never would’ve nominated Sessions as his Attorney General. Trump continues to cite President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, claiming that he wants an AG who will protect him (Holder never did anything of the sort and Obama was never under criminal investigation.)

Now, let’s put Trump’s above statement in context.

Jeff Sessions was nominated for Attorney General in November 2016…that was before the public was aware the Russia investigation even existed and before FBI Director James Comey revealed the Trump campaign was a subject of the investigation.

So, what President Trump is essentially saying is that he wouldn’t have nominated Sessions for Attorney General if he knew he wouldn’t protect him from an investigation the public didn’t know existed yet?

If President Trump’s claim is true, it appears that Trump was aware there was underlying wrongdoing in his campaign that he expected Sessions to cover up. Otherwise, his claim wouldn’t make sense.

Overall, this adds to the mounting case for obstruction of justice that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is building. Trump’s intention has long been clear, by his own admission, that he wants the Russia investigation to come to an end. And every time he reaffirms this intent, he makes Mueller’s job a lot easier.

Meanwhile…

  • A Harvard University study found that Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico is 4,600 people, more than 70 times the government’s toll. Clearly, this is a major scandal and we’ll be covering it closely in the coming days.
  • The New York Times dropped yet another report.

But in the meeting at the Justice Department, Mr. Rosenstein added a new detail: He said the president had originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo, the people familiar with the conversation said. Mr. Rosenstein did not elaborate on what Mr. Trump had wanted him to say.

A federal judge on Wednesday gave attorneys for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, a little more than two weeks to finish reviewing material seized from his office and residences to determine what is protected by attorney-client privilege.

The June 15 deadline was set during a hearing in Manhattan that focused on the status of these seized materials and featured sparring between Cohen’s attorneys and Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress to whom Cohen paid $130,000 after she alleged she had an affair with Trump.

  • NPR reported:The Russian journalist who was said to have been killed Tuesday in Kiev, Ukraine, turned up very much alive at a news conference Wednesday.

“I’d like to apologize for everything you’ve had to go through,” he said, according to a transcript from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “I’ve been at the funeral of many friends and colleagues, and I know this nauseous feeling. Sorry for imposing this upon you, but there was no other way.”

“Special apologies to my wife for the hell she’s been through these two days,” he added. “Olya, excuse me, please, but there was no other option.”

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to interview Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone. This came after Stone’s previously unreported solicitations for Hillary Clinton emails from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
  • Kim Kardashian West visited the White House.

Kim Kardashian West met with President Donald Trump and other officials, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, at the White House on Wednesday to discuss prison reform.

    • Harvey Weinstein has officially been indicted.

Rundown // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism