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Sessions Defends Himself After Trumps Slams DOJ and Decries 'Flipping'



WASHINGTON President Trump, speaking after Michael Cohen, implicated him in a crime in a plea deal, Tuesday said so-called flipping "almost ought to be illegal" and launched a new attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Speaking Mr. Fox, Mr. Trump delivered one of his harshest attacks on Mr. Sessions, questioning his character for recruiting himself in the Russia investigation.

, Sessions later issued a sharp response, declaring in a statement: "While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations."

Mr. Sessions last year relinquished control of the interference into the 2016 election, citing his involvement in the Trump campaign. Trump campaign aides, and contributed to the prosecution of a fifth

Robert Mueller has now received convictions or guilty pleas from four

"I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department, "the president said.

In his statement, Mr. Sessions defended the Justice Department's performance under his leadership, while saying it will remain independent of political considerations.

Some Senate Republicans has signaled Mr. Sessions' days in the job could be numbered.

"The president's titled to an attorney general he has faith in somebody that's qualified for the job. And I think there's a time-sooner to come-it's time to get a fresh voice and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice, "said

      Sen. Lindsey Graham

       (R, S.C.), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Graham said that Mr. Sessions should not have been replaced before the midterm elections, but that it would be "likely".

Mr. Trump's comments, broadcast Thursday, Michael Cohen implicated him in a crime stemming from the payment of hush money to women who trumped them.

Sitting outdoors near the Rose Garden White House, Mr. Trump voiced disdain for "flipping," saying "whoever the next-highest one is," he said. "I've had many friends involved in this stuff. It's called flipping and it's almost illegitimate. "

Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor, said Mr. Trump's comments amount to" an absolutely outrageous statement and any prosecutor would just be shocking to hear. "[1

9659004] "It's hard to overstate how fundamental to the process of prosecution is the necessity of getting cooperating witnesses," Mr. Zeidenberg said. Noting the president praised his former campaign chairman,

      Paul Manafort,

       for he seeks a plea deal in his tax and bank fraud trial, he said, "He does not talk like a president. He talks like a crime boss. "

" Trump's idea would effectively demolish one of the most basic and valuable tools of criminal law enforcement in the US, "said Stephen Gillers, a professor at the New York University School of Law. [19659004] Mr. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including "campaign finance violations."

Now estranged from the president, Mr. Cohen said this week through his attorney Mr. Trump.

Mr. Davis, though, said Mr. Cohen is already in a prison sentence and is using the information as a bargaining chip.

Mr. Trump has taken different approaches to Messrs. Manafort and Cohen: Mr. Cohen is an untrustworthy figure who played a role in his business dealings.

Appearing in court on Tuesday, Mr. Mr. Trump said he was in a hurry to hear that Mr. Trump said he was in a hurry Mr. Cohen, who has described himself as the president's "fixer," what a lawyer who "did not do big deals" but "did small deals."

"Not somebody that was with me that much," he said .

Mr. Trump did not specify what steps it took to take the prosecutorial tactic of "flipping".

40 years I've been watching flippers, "he said. "It's not fair."

Mr. Trump has long bristled over Mr. Sessions' decision to withdraw from the Russia investigation. He routinely makes the former Alabama senator a target of caustic tweets.

Mr. Sessions, he has not made any apparent moves to oust him.

In the Fox News interview, Mr. Trump suggested that Democrats still have great sway over the Justice Department, which is now led by his appointees. He's been annoyed with Mr. Sessions in the Justice Department's failure to prosecute his 2016 election opponent, Democrat

      Hillary Clinton,

       over her email practices when she served as secretary of state.

Mrs. Clinton uses a private email address and server as the nation's top diplomat. In July 2016, then-FBI Director

      James Comey

       Mrs. Clinton's email use, though he said she was "extremely careless" in her dealings.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey in May 2017, an action that Mr. Mueller has been examining as part of an obstruction-of-justice trial.

"Even my enemies say that 'Jeff Sessions should have said that he was going to recuse himself, and then he did not put him in.' He took the job, and then he said I'm going to recuse myself, "Mr. Trump said.

The president, who as a candidate pledged to hire" the best people, "said in the interview that the" only reason I gave him the job "what because he felt" loyalty " to Mr. Sessions for signing on the campaign.

Asked if he would fire Mr. Sessions, the president said that he "wanted to stay uninvolved."

"It's a very, very sad day," he continued , "Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he should not have done. Or he should have told me. "

Write to Peter Nicholas at peter.nicholas@wsj.com and Sadie Gurman at sadie.gurman@wsj.com


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