President Donald Trump is reportedly considering replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with former GOP Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York. Trump has been intensely critical of Sessions, blasting the Department of Justice head for recusing himself from the federal investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election.
On July 24, several anonymous White House officials disclosed that Trump was exploring the possibility of removing Sessions and installing Giuliani to head his administration's DOJ, Axios reports.
Like Sessions, Giuliani was a staunch Trump backer during the 2016 race. Giuliani's potential nomination would likely be controversial, given his friendly relationship with the president and his ability to influence the federal probe into Russia.
On July 19, Trump stated that he would not have appointed Sessions had he known that the attorney general would recuse himself from the Russia probe.
"Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else," Trump told The New York Times.
On March 2, Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had previously undisclosed contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential race. After Trump fired former FBI director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the Russia probe.
On July 20, Sessions stated that he would not step down from the DOJ during a press conference.
"We love this job," Sessions said, according to CNN. "We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate."
That same day, it was disclosed that Mueller's investigators were examining Trump's previous business transactions with Russian officials, Bloomberg reports.
In the July 19 interview with The New York Times, the president stated that he considered his business history off-limits in the probe, stating: "I think that's a violation."
On July 24, Trump took to social media to blast Sessions once again.
"So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes and Russia relations?" Trump tweeted out.
Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter of the Bush administration, a vocal critic of Trump, believes that the president aims to oust Sessions and replace him with an attorney general who would squash the Mueller probe.
"This is the risk: Sessions quits or is forced out or fired,” Painter told Newsweek. "Then [Trump] puts in another acting attorney general, a crony who didn't work on the campaign and who wouldn’t recuse on Russia. Things sit for two or three weeks and then the acting AG fires Mueller or, more probably, starts to just meddle in his business and looks for an excuse to impede it."