President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions followed their nasty war of words this morning with a meeting this afternoon where they didn't say a word about their confrontation, a source with direct knowledge tells Axios' Jonathan Swan.
- Per a second source with knowledge of the Oval Office meeting, attended by Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway, Sessions, Trump and Mercedes Schlapp: “No acknowledgment, not even a passing mention” of the morning’s events. “To the point where I don’t even know if he [Trump] was aware of his [Sessions’] statement."
Why it matters: This tracks with Trump's aversion to in-person confrontation. Sessions has been mostly mute in the face of sustained criticisms from his boss on the Justice Department's handling of the Mueller investigation, which scored a major win this week with Paul Manafort's eight felony convictions.
Trump, in a Fox News interview that aired this morning (via AP):
"You know the only reason I gave him the job? Because I felt loyalty, he was an original supporter," Trump said, criticizing Sessions because he, according to the president, "never took control of the Justice Department."
Sessions via a spokeswoman at noon today:
"I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in… 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."
What they're saying:
- Republican senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) signaled before the Sessions statement that Trump may fire him after the midterms.
- Graham: "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, Sen. John Cornyn 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."
P.S. As Axios' Stef Kight scooped, Trump is shelving any endorsement of a reform bill until after the election. That's in alignment with Sessions.