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The brief history of how Trump turned on Sessions

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo: Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "DISGRACEFUL" today, adding to a growing list of examples of Trump publicly criticizing his own staffers.

Why it matters: Continuing to attack one of his own Cabinet members in this way, and especially when it's explicitly in reaction to Bob Mueller's Russia probe, is not normal.

Be smart: Trump continues to publicly attack Sessions and question the job he's doing as AG, but it's not clear he'll do anything about it. He often talks about replacing current staff members, as Axios' Jonathan Swan has reported, but he doesn't always follow through.


  • Feb. 28, 2016: "He's really the expert as far as I'm concerned on borders, on so many things."
  • Nov. 18, 2016: "He is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great Attorney General and US Attorney in the state of Alabama."
  • Jan. 30, 2017: Trump emails the Washington Post that Sessions is “a truly fine person” who is "so highly respected by everyone in both Washington, D.C., and around the country."
  • Mar. 2, 2017: "Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately..."
  • July 19, 2017: "Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else."
  • July 24, 2017: "So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?"
  • July 25, 2017: Axios reports Trump called a longtime political associate and asked out of the blue: "What would happen if I fired Sessions?"
    • Trump tweets asking Sessions why he's not investigating "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign."
    • He tweets again: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!"
    • To the Wall Street Journal: "[I]t's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement. But I'm very disappointed in Jeff Sessions."
  • July 26, 2017: Trump tweets asking why Sessions didn't fire acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
  • Feb. 21, 2018: Days after Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for violating criminal law to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election, Trump tweets: "If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!"
  • Feb. 28, 2018: The Republican memo was released on Feb. 2, which alleged the DOJ and FBI's mishandling of FISA applications and surveillance. "Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!"

Don't forget: Sessions was one of Trump's earliest supporters during the campaign (endorsing him in February 2016). He has stood by Trump's side ever since, often moving forward on many of Trump's most controversial policy proposals, like the travel ban, stricter drug sentencing, immigration, and cracking down on administrative leaks.

Go deeper: See how Mueller's timeline aligns with Trump's evolving mood on Sessions.

Haley Britzky 3 hours ago
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DOJ eyeing tool to allow access to encrypted data on smartphones

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

The Justice Department is in "a preliminary stage" of discussions about requiring tech companies building "tools into smartphones and other devices" that would allow law enforcement investigators to access encrypted data, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This has been on the FBI's mind since 2010, and last month the White House "circulated a memo...outlining ways to think about solving the problem," officials told the Times. Both FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, support finding ways for law enforcement to access data without compromising devices security.

Haley Britzky 3 hours ago
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Media tycoon Barry Diller talks #MeToo

 IAC & Expedia, Inc. Chairman & Senior Executive Barry Diller
IAC & Expedia, Inc. Chairman & Senior Executive Barry Diller. Photo: Cindy Ord / Getty Images for Yahoo

Barry Diller, chairman of mega-media and Internet company IAC, told the New York Times he thinks "all men are guilty," when it comes to "the spectrum" of the #MeToo movement.

"I hope in the future for some form of reconciliation. Because I think all men are guilty. I’m not talking about rape and pillage. I’m not talking about Harveyesque. I’m talking about all of the spectrum. From an aggressive flirt. Or even just a flirty-flirt that has one sour note in it. Or what I think every man was guilty of, some form of omission in attitude, in his views."

Why it matters: The #MeToo movement has rocked Hollywood and the media industry. Diller told the Times he sees the effects of this "in our companies, where the relationships between people are changing."