President Trump escalated his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, offering a scathing assessment of his performance on the job and in his confirmation hearing.
I don't have an attorney-general.
Trump has always been publicly critical of Sessions's decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and said that he has regretted nominating him to lead the Justice Department.
"That means 311 Chicagoans - friends, neighbors, moms, dads - were killed in 2016 who might still be alive if the murder rate stayed at the 10-year average", Mr. Sessions said. Judges "have no inherent authority to terminate removal proceedings even though a particular case may pose sympathetic circumstances", he said. In response to those attacks, Sessions, in a rare move for the nation's top cop, said that he would "not be improperly influenced by political considerations".
"The decision is the next step in a concerted effort by the A.G.to undermine judicial independence and to minimize the role of judges in immigration court", said Kate Voigt, associate director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers' Association.
The Justice Department declined to comment to NPR on Wednesday.
"People that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers", Trump said.
In the interview, Trump suggested he appointed Sessions out of blind loyalty.
Sessions took the action because he himself had been an official in Trump's campaign, and because he had contacts with Russia's ambassador during the election battle. Answers that should have been easily answered.
A resignation by Sessions would open the way for Trump to appoint a new attorney general, one unconstricted from directing Rosenstein and Mueller. Trump allies have suggested Sessions is safe through the midterm elections.
What did President Trump say?
But he left the Russian Federation investigation - which is also reportedly now looking into whether Mr Trump has attempted to obstruct justice - in 2017, citing a potential conflict of interest, and handed control to his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. "And I guess I study history, and I say I just want to leave things alone, but it was very unfair" of Sessions to recuse himself.
"He gets in and probably because of the experience that he had going through the nominating when somebody asked him the first question about Hillary Clinton or something he said, 'I recuse myself, I recuse myself,"' Trump said.
Asked whether he'll fire Sessions, Trump replied, "We'll see what happens".