President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions attorney general if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, telling The New York Times that the decision was "very unfair to the president."
"Sessions should have never recused himself – and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else," Trump told the Times in an Oval Office interview.
The attorney general, the former six-term Republican senator from Alabama, was one of Trump's earliest supporters on Capitol Hill.
He recused himself from the Justice Department's Russia probe in March, though he beat back accusations that he had misled Congress in not disclosing two meetings with a Russian ambassador last year.
"Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president," President Trump said. "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?
"If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.'
"It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president."
Regarding the Moscow probe itself, President Trump said that, as far as he knew, he was not under investigation himself.
"I don’t think we’re under investigation," he told the Times. "I’m not under investigation.
"For what? I didn’t do anything wrong."
The president also harshly criticized his attorney general for not giving accurate statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee relating to meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
"Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers," Trump told the Times. "He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t."
Sessions testified before the Senate panel in January, saying that he had not met with any Russians.
A spokesman for Sessions declined to comment, the Times reports.
In the interview, Trump also accused former FBI Director James Comey of trying to use an unsubstantiated Russian dossier of negative information to keep his job.
Trump fired Comey in May.
The president also attacked Comey's interim replacement and bashed special Russia counsel Robert Mueller for hiring a staff that was rife with conflicts.
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