In an interview that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump told “Meet the Press” that his biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.
“If you could have one do-over as president, what would it be?” NBC host Chuck Todd asked Trump during their interview.
This article first appeared at Salon.com.
After the president replied that his do over would involve “personnel,” he elaborated that “I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.” When Todd asked Trump to clarify if he thought appointing Sessions was his “worst mistake,” the president reiterated “yeah, that was the biggest mistake.” He added that Sessions is “very talented” but was cut off by a new line of questioning from Todd before he could elaborate.
The NBC host asked if the current attorney general, Bill Barr, serves as Trump’s “Roy Cohn.” The president responded that “I had many, many lawyers. I mean, a lot of lawyers. Roy was one of them. He was a tough guy.” Trump avoided a question about whether Barr is “cut from the same cloth” as Cohn, instead saying that “Bill Barr is a very, he’s equally tough. He’s a fine man. He’s a fine man. The job he’s done is incredible. He’s brought sanity back. I think he’s real — I don’t think, I know, he’s respected. You know, he loves the Department of Justice. He saw what was happening. He has done a spectacular job. Now he’s in the process of doing something and I stay away from it. I really, I stay away from it. But I think he feels that what’s happened in this country was a very bad thing and very bad for our country.”
Roy Cohn was a notoriously unethical right-wing lawyer who became famous for advising Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisc., during the so-called “McCarthy era” of anti-Communist witch hunts. He later advised the future president on legal matters.
Trump used to have a close friendship with Sessions, who was one of the first major political figures to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign while Sessions was still a United States Senator from Alabama. The two men soured on each other after Trump disapproved of Sessions recusing himself from the Trump-Russia investigation when his own potential conflict of interest was brought to public attention.
Trump also talked to Todd about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been criticized by fellow Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for her reluctance to pursue impeachment against the president.
“Let me ask you this, why do you think Nancy Pelosi has held off her impeachment caucus?” Todd asked Trump.
The president replied, “Because I think she feels that I will win much easier. I mean, I’ve been told that by many people.”
After Todd asked if he thought impeachment would help him get reelected, the president responded that “I think I win the election easier.”
Trump also discussed his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling Todd that he would discuss potential interference in the 2020 election with his counterpart.
“Are you going to tell him not to and what are the consequences?” Todd asked.
Trump replied, “My answer last week was both. I said both. I’d do both. Except they didn’t put it on. And when they did put it on people understood. But they didn’t put it on because they put a different segment on. So they ask me a question. But when I said, ‘Yeah, I’d do both,’ people saw that in the last version of it because the thing played like all weekend and on Friday. So it’s just more fake news. Chuck, there’s so much fake news.”
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