WASHINGTON (CN) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday insisted he will remain in his job, despite sharp public criticism from President Donald Trump over his decision to recuse himself from any investigation into ties between the president’s campaign and the Russian government.
“I have the honor of serving as the attorney general, something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself” Sessions said at a press conference on Thursday announcing a Justice Department takedown of a dark web marketplace. “We love this job, we love this department and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times published on Wednesday night, Trump criticized Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia, saying the then-Alabama senator should have warned Trump he might do so before the president picked him for the attorney general job.
“So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself,” Trump told The New York Times. “I then have -which frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said. ‘Thanks Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”
Sessions was among Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress and his closeness to the Trump campaign was one of a prominent reason Democrats opposed his nomination. Sessions ultimately recused himself from investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia after it was revealed he did not disclose meetings with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
That left Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the leader of the Justice Department in matters related to the Trump campaign. In the interview with the Times, Trump also expressed dismay over Rosenstein’s position in the Justice Department, in part because Rosenstein is from Baltimore where Trump said “there are very few Republicans.”
Trump also criticized Rosenstein for picking Robert Muller as special counsel, noting Mueller was being interviewed to replace James Comey as director of the FBI.
“I said, what the hell is this all about,” Trump told the Times. “Talk about conflicts?”
Rosenstein did not directly address Trump’s comments about his hometown, but said he would continue to work with others at the Justice Department to achieve goals like the takedown the department announced Thursday, which shut down the largest illegal marketplace on the dark web.
“I was proudly here yesterday, I’m proudly here today and I’ll be proudly working here tomorrow,” Rosenstein said when asked about Trump’s comments at a press conference on Thursday.