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Pence breaks with Trump on Sessions, praises the attorney general

The president has been relentless in his attacks, but the vice president had only compliments for the nation's top law enforcement officer.
Mike Pence,Jeff Sessions
Vice President Mike Pence, right, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department's National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 21, 2017.Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

In a rare public break from President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday praised Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has repeatedly and increasingly faced the wrath of the commander in chief.

Pence, walking into a GOP lunch at the Capitol, had only kind words for Sessions when asked by reporters whether he had confidence in the attorney general.

"I hold Jeff Sessions in the highest regard," Pence said. "I appreciate his service to the nation."

As recently as this week, Trump was teeing off on his attorney general.

Trump criticized Sessions on Monday in a pair of tweets that seemed to blame the attorney general for the timing of federal charges last month against Republican Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, who were both early supporters of Trump for president.

In August, Trump ripped Sessions because he "never took control" of the Justice Department — an attack that prompted the attorney general, in a rare retort, to push back. A day later, Trump responded, daring Sessions to investigate Democrats and intelligence officials. Also last month, Trump called on Sessions to end the Mueller probe. In July, he ripped him as "very weak."

And, according to a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, "Fear: Trump in the White House," the president at one point blasted his attorney general as "mentally retarded," a "dumb Southerner" who "couldn't even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama."

The president has denied calling Sessions those names.

But Trump has expressed anger at Sessions for recusing himself from any federal probe into Russian election meddling.