“We are frustrated that we have had a special counsel in Mueller investigating supposed collusion for over a year, with not a scintilla of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Jenkins said in the midst of a lengthy monologue.
“Look, I think the American people are concerned, and the president is concerned. He’s dealing with France and North Korea and Syria and taxes and regulations and border and crime every day, and I wish — this thing needs to conclude. So, I understand his frustrations, and I understand the American people’s frustrations,” Sessions said.
He added later: “I do not think we need to willy nilly appoint special counsels, and as we can see, it can really take on a life of its own.”
Sessions has no direct authority over Mueller, and could not bring the special counsel probe to an end — even if that is his desire. To President Trump’s dismay, he recused himself from supervising what is now the special counsel probe because of his role on the Trump campaign. The matter is being overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.
But the attorney general’s comments, nonetheless, are striking, suggesting Sessions might privately share some of the president’s frustration with the Mueller investigation. Asked to clarify Sessions’s exchange with Jenkins, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “I’d imagine he was saying that it’s in the public interest to have the special counsel’s investigation concluded as soon as possible.”
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.
Earlier Thursday, Trump again took aim at his Justice Department, suggesting FBI agents and prosecutors were unfairly probing his campaign while overlooking other matters, and that he might soon take a more hands-on approach.
“You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI; it’s a disgrace, and our Justice Department — which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won’t — our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” Trump said on Fox and Friends.
Trump’s comments drew swift condemnation from former Justice Department officials and congressional Democrats, who said he had violated the long held norm that the president should not insert himself in criminal investigations.
GOP legislators have asked Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to explore a host of matters, many of them having to do with Hillary Clinton. Sessions has so far declined to do so, instead tasking U.S. Attorney John Huber with reviewing the topics of concern.
Sessions has refused to clarify whether and how his recusal applies to an investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, which is being conducted not by the special counsel’s office, but by prosecutors and investigations in the Southern District of New York. Earlier this month, FBI agents raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office — igniting the president’s fury and generating speculation that he might fire Justice Department leaders in response.