WASHINGTON (AP) — With the president's frustrations with his Justice Department spilling into public view, top White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to say Tuesday whether President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"I have not had that discussion with him," Spicer told reporters during a White House briefing, adding: "if I haven't had a discussion with him about a subject, I tend not to speak about it."
Trump has been angry with Sessions, one of his most vocal and earliest supporters, ever since Sessions recused himself in March from the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible connections between Moscow and Trump campaign aides.
The decision was prompted by Sessions' failure to disclose conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States during his confirmation hearing.
Trump told people at the time that he worried the decision would be seen as an admission of defeat — and has continued to express frustrations with the Justice Department's actions.
On Monday, he took to Twitter to publicly criticize the department's legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban barring the entry of people from certain Muslim-majority countries into the United States. The ban and a second version written to better withstand legal scrutiny have been held up in court.
"The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.," Trump tweeted Monday, ignoring the fact that he oversees the department and signed the second version of the ban.
"The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!" he added.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia, deriding the story as a "witch hunt" and "fake news" invented to explain away the Democrats' loss in November.
The New York Times reported Monday that Trump partially blames Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the investigation for the eventual appointment of a special counsel.