Aug 23, 2018

Jeff Sessions fires back at Trump

Sessions gives a speech in Washington, DC. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a rare public statement Thursday in which he appeared to push back against President Trump, hours after Trump criticized him in a Fox News interview for failing to take control of the Justice Department.

"The actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations ... I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action."
— Sessions, in a statement posted to Twitter by DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores.

The backdrop: After being asked by Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt whether he would consider firing Sessions, Trump said...

“I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department ... I wanted to stay uninvolved but when everyone sees what’s going on in the Justice Department — I always put 'justice' now in quotes — it’s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done.”

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) also signaled Thursday that Trump may fire Sessions after the November midterm elections:

  • Graham told reporters: "The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in ... I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice. Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”
  • Grassley said in an interview that he’d be able to schedule hearings to confirm a new attorney general, despite previously stating he was too busy to address the issue, per Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, John Cornyn (R-Tex.) defended Sessions while speaking to reporters:

  • “I think it would be bad for the country, it would be bad for the president, it would be bad for the Department of Justice for him to be forced out under these circumstances. So I hope he stays the course and I hope cooler heads prevail."

Full statement:

What to watch: Sessions is at the White House this afternoon for a meeting with Trump, Jared Kushner and Brooke Rollins to discuss prison and sentencing reform.

Go deeper: Trump says" flipping" for a reduced sentence "almost ought to be illegal."

Go deeper

Pandemic forces startups to shift gears

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Spaces CEO Brad Herman had an early warning about COVID-19 because his startup supplies VR attractions to a number of theme parks in China. Realizing that the business he spent the last few years building was going to evaporate, Herman quickly found a new way to apply his team's know-how: helping companies host Zoom teleconferences in VR.

Why it matters: Many startups are rethinking the viability of their core businesses in the wake of the coronavirus. Spaces' move is one of many such pivots likely to crop up in the coming months.

International coronavirus treatment trial uses AI to speed results

Hydroxychloroquine is one of the drugs that will be included in the trial. Photo: John Philips/Getty Images

The first hospital network in the U.S. has joined an international clinical trial using artificial intelligence to help determine which treatments for patients with the novel coronavirus are most effective on an on-going basis.

Why it matters: In the midst of a pandemic, scientists face dueling needs: to find treatments quickly and to ensure they are safe and effective. By using this new type of adaptive platform, doctors hope to collect clinical data that will help more quickly determine what actually works.

Go deeperArrow34 mins ago - Health

We can't just flip the switch on the coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It feels like some big, terrible switch got flipped when the coronavirus upended our lives — so it’s natural to want to simply flip it back. But that is not how the return to normalcy will go.

The big picture: Even as the number of illnesses and deaths in the U.S. start to fall, and we start to think about leaving the house again, the way forward will likely be slow and uneven. This may feel like it all happened suddenly, but it won't end that way.

Go deeperArrow48 mins ago - Health