Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not had the best week. President Trump criticized Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from Russia investigation-related matters at the Justice Department. Since Trump first spoke critically of Sessions in an interview with the New York Times and publicly on Twitter, tensions have grown amid speculation that Sessions will be fired or will succumb to pressure from the president and resign.
Though White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week at a news conference that the president is merely disappointed in Sessions, her comments have done little to end speculation that Sessions’s departure may be likely.
Trump’s approach of publicly and repeatedly criticizing Sessions seems like unusual behavior for a president. And the potential act of firing an attorney general seems rare as well. But how rare would it be? How unusual is the president's aggressive style of publicly putting pressure on his cabinet officials? Plus, how much influence should a president have over the Justice Department?
This is where we come in. On this week's episode of “Can He Do That?” White House correspondent Ashley Parker explains the political consequences of Trump's actions. We talk to Tim Naftali, historian and professor at New York University, to get a sense of how this moment compares to those in history. And Steve Vladeck, professor of law at Texas Law School, explains the president's legal limitations when it comes to firing cabinet members and affecting special prosecutor investigations.
Listen to the full episode below.
Each week, ‘Can He Do That?’ examines the powers and limitations of the American presidency, focusing on one area where Trump is seemingly breaking precedent. We answer the critical questions about what today’s news means for the future of the highest office in the nation.