WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he wished he had chosen another lawyer to be his attorney general, instead of Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation early in the Trump administration.
But Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said later that the president would not fire Mr. Sessions — at least not before the Russia inquiry has concluded.
“There’s no doubt he’s complained about him; there’s no doubt he has some grievances,” Mr. Giuliani told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “He’s not going to fire him before this is over.”
He added, “Nor do I think he should,” an indication that the prospect has been discussed since he joined the president’s legal team a few weeks ago.
Mr. Trump was responding on Twitter to a CBS interview with Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, who had said the president was justified in his frustration because Mr. Sessions did not tell Mr. Trump he planned to recuse himself.
In the interview on Wednesday morning, Mr. Gowdy said, “There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!”
“I wish I did!” Mr. Trump said in a tweet later.
Fifteen hours later, it was still on his mind: “‘The recusal of Jeff Sessions was an unforced betrayal of the President of the United States.’ JOE DIGENOVA, former U.S. Attorney,” Mr. Trump tweeted, quoting Mr. diGenova, who was on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News on Wednesday night.
Since Mr. Sessions’s recusal in March 2017, the president has publicly and privately lashed out at him. In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has gone so far as to tell people not to raise Mr. Sessions’s name with him in conversation. The two men rarely speak outside of cabinet meetings.
During the course of his Senate confirmation hearings early last year, as rumors circulated about an investigation into Russia’s possible coordination with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, Mr. Sessions was asked whether he would recuse himself. At the time, Mr. Sessions said he did not know of a specific reason as to why he should do so.
But he also said, “If a matter arose in which I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with department ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed.”
After being criticized when it was disclosed that he had contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Sessions recused himself from any inquiry into Russia’s election meddling and possible coordination with Mr. Trump’s political aides.
Mr. Sessions insisted there was nothing suspicious about his two meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. But, he said, he made the decision to recuse himself after consulting with Justice Department officials.
More recently, Mr. Trump has joined some of his Republican allies in Congress in protracted attacks on the Justice Department, this time over congressional requests for some of the F.B.I.’s most closely held secrets.
Mr. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that the F.B.I. planted a spy inside his campaign.
The quotes by Mr. Gowdy that the president highlighted in a series on Twitter posts on Wednesday morning appeared to validate Mr. Trump’s feelings toward his attorney general.
But Mr. Trump did not mention Mr. Gowdy’s other point — that the F.B.I. did nothing improper during its investigation. That statement contradicted the narrative put forward by Mr. Trump and his supporters.
Mr. Gowdy has been briefed on the classified documents about the continuing investigation that Republicans sought. “I’ve never heard the term ‘spy’ used,” Mr. Gowdy said on CBS.
“Based on what I have seen, I don’t know what the F.B.I. could have done or should have done, other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia,” Mr. Gowdy said. “I would think you would want the F.B.I. to find out whether or not there was any validity to what those people were saying.”
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