Trump Shows His Anger Over Sessions Recusal and Russia Connection
Before heading off to his so-called “winter White House” in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, President Donald Trump summoned some of his senior staff to the Oval Office and went “ballistic,” senior White House sources told ABC News.
The president erupted with anger over the latest slew of news reports connecting Russia with the new administration — specifically the abrupt decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.
Sources said the president felt Sessions’ recusal was unnecessary and only served to embolden Trump’s political opponents. The attorney general made his announcement Thursday just as Trump returned to Washington from a trip to the U.S.S. Gerald Ford in Virginia for a speech about his agenda as president.
Hours earlier, aboard the ship, the president had told reporters that he had “total” confidence in Sessions and saw no reason why the attorney general should recuse himself.
“We should have had a good week. We should have had a good weekend. But once again, back to Russia,” a senior White House official said, expressing the frustration simmering in the West Wing following the news earlier in the week that Sessions failed to disclose during his confirmation process that he had met with the Russian ambassador twice during the election campaign. Sessions at the time was a senator on the Armed Services Committee and was also helping the Trump campaign.
Among those gathered in the Oval Office on Friday: Chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, White House Counsel Don McGahn, press secretary Sean Spicer, newly-hired Communications Director Mike Dubke, along with Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, the sources said.
With Marine One waiting on the South Lawn, Trump and his team engaged in an animated exchange — captured by press pool cameras peering in through the windows from the White House South Lawn. Trump then left the office for the helicopter, taking the hands of his young grandchildren and joined by his daughter Ivanka and Kushner.
Priebus and Bannon were planning to join the trip, but suddenly after the president’s eruption those plans changed. One source said both men volunteered to stay behind in Washington, with another source saying the president seemed to concur that they should.
As President Trump was in the air aboard Marine One headed for Air Force One on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, a last-minute phone call was made from the West Wing to the team on board the president’s plane with a directive to remove Priebus and Bannon from the manifest, sources said. They would not be coming to the Sunshine State.
Source: ABC News
Content Source: ABC News
Image Source: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images, AP Photo/Evan Vucci