Trump says he never would have appointed Sessions if he had known he would recuse himself over Russia

Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, April 27, 2017.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, April 27, 2017.

Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Donald Trump criticized his attorney general Wednesday says he never would have hired Jeff Sessions if he had known the Sessions would later recuse himself over the Russia election investigation.

In an interview with the New York Times, the president also criticized Sessions' confirmation testimony in the US senate, in which Sessions denied "communications with the Russians" despite at least two meetings with  Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russian probe in March after the Washington Post revealed the meetings with Kislyak.

But Trump said Sessions had acted unfairly in taking the job in the first place if he had felt in any way compromised.

"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'm not going to take you,'" Trump said.

"It's extremely unfair — and that's a mild word — to the president."

In an appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, Sessions vehemently denied any collusion with Russia to tilt last year's US election in Trump's favor, branding the suggestion an "appalling and detestable lie."

He also engaged in testy exchanges with several senators who pressed him for details on his discussions with Trump — which he refused to provide in the name of confidentiality.

The interview comes as Trump reaches the six-month mark of his presidency, and amid reports that a senate panel next week will grill three of the pivotal players in his 2016 presidential campaign — including his eldest son — over allegations of the campaign's collusion with Russia.