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Trump: 'I wish I did' pick someone other than Jeff Sessions for attorney general

Trump's tweet came after it was reported he had asked Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from federal probes into Russian interference.
Image: Donald Trump
President Trump has repeatedly attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for giving up control of the Russia investigation. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he wished he had not selected Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, a day after it was reported that Trump told Sessions to regain control of the Russia probe last year — and was angered when the attorney general refused.

In a trio of morning tweets, Trump responded to an interview that Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., gave to "CBS This Morning" in which Gowdy, the House Oversight Committee chairman, at one point appeared to explain how the president's "frustration" with Sessions could be justified.

Trump quoted Gowdy as saying, "There are a lot of good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!"

Trump then added, "And I wish I did!"

Trump’s tweets came just hours after The New York Times reported that Trump had, in March 2017, asked Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from all federal investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions' decision to recuse himself ultimately resulted in the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a probe that includes investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The Times' report Tuesday also described Sessions as a "key witness" in the probe into whether Trump had attempted to obstruct justice.

Trump has repeatedly attacked his attorney general in public and in private for giving up control of an investigation he claims is a partisan "witch hunt" — and said previously that he regrets hiring Sessions.

In July 2017, he told The Times that "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."

The barrage of criticism marks a stark fall from grace for Sessions, who was once one of Trump's staunchest allies on the campaign trail and who had been the first sitting senator to endorse Trump's presidential bid.

The president has also, in recent weeks, accused the Department of Justice of having inserted a “spy” inside his campaign — even nicknaming the alleged situation "Spygate."

But Gowdy, who also sits on the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees, also pushed back on that particular Trump claim Wednesday — and said he had seen no evidence to support it.

"That is not a term I've ever used in the criminal justice system. Undercover informant, confidential informant, those are all words I’m familiar with. I’ve never heard the term 'spy' used," he told “CBS This Morning.”

When asked specifically whether he’s seen any evidence of a spy having been “inserted into the campaign,” Gowdy replied, "I have not."

"That's an espionage term, that’s not a law enforcement term," he added.

"Based on what I have seen, I don’t know what the FBI could’ve done or should’ve done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia,” Gowdy continued, after being asked whether he felt the FBI had “acted properly.”

“I would think you would want the FBI to find out whether or not there was any validity to what those people were saying,” Gowdy said, adding that he’s never met or talked with Trump.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said on CNN that he was "grateful" to Gowdy for publicly debunking Trump's spy theory.

"Frankly, this undermines the United States around the world. It suggests that we have a national leader who traffics in conspiracy theories," Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said. "So, I'm frankly grateful to Congressman Gowdy that he has stepped forward and made such a clear and forceful statement."