Tags: Jeff Sessions | Russia Probe | Trump Administration | gatekeepers | reince priebus | palace intrigue | recusal

VF 'Gatekeepers' Excerpt: Priebus Saved Sessions as AG

VF 'Gatekeepers' Excerpt: Priebus Saved Sessions as AG
Ousted White House staffers Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 February 2018 07:56 PM

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus twice saved Attorney General Jeff Sessions' job, convincing an angry President Donald Trump to keep him in the administration, Vanity Fair reported.

In an adaption to his book, "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency," posted by Vanity Fair and due to be released in paperback March 6, author Chris Whipple writes Sessions offered his resignation in May 2017 — right after he recused himself from the Russia investigation, infuriating Trump.

"Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, 'We've got a problem,'" Priebus said, according to Whipple. "I responded, 'What?' And he said, 'Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.' I said, 'What!? What the hell are you talking about?'"

According to Whipple, only moments beforehand, Trump had targeted Sessions in a tirade in the Oval Office, calling him an "idiot" and blaming Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation for the whole mess. Sessions said he would resign, Whipple reported.

"I said, 'That can't happen,'" Priebus said, Whipple writes, adding he ran out to the West Wing parking lot and found Sessions in the backseat of a black sedan, with the engine running.

"I knocked on the door of the car, and Jeff was sitting there," Priebus said, Whipple writes, "and I just jumped in and shut the door, and I said, 'Jeff, what's going on?' And then he told me that he was going to resign. I said, 'You cannot resign. It's not possible. We are going to talk about this right now.' So I dragged him back up to my office from the car.

"[Vice President Mike] Pence and [chief strategist Stephen] Bannon came in, and we started talking to him to the point where he decided that he would not resign right then, and he would instead think about it."

Later that night, Sessions delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office, but, Priebus claimed he ultimately persuaded the president to give it back.

Then, as FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation heated up in June 2017, Trump ordered Priebus to get Sessions to resign "flat out" as he grew increasingly frustrated, and he openly called the attorney general "weak" on Twitter, Whipple writes.

"The president told him, 'Don't give me any bullshit. Don't try to slow me down like you always do. Get the resignation of Jeff Sessions,'" a White House insider told Whipple.

Similar to the near-resignation, Priebus had to talk Trump out of this decision, telling him it would make FBI Director James Comey's firing look like a "picnic" and set off an avalanche of high-profile resignations.

A month later, Sessions indicated he planned on staying put, and has remained Trump's attorney general ever since.

"We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate," Sessions told reporters in July.

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Convincing an angry President Donald Trump to keep him in the administration, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus twice saved Attorney General Jeff Sessions' job, according to an excerpt from "The Gatekeepers" published by Vanity Fair.
gatekeepers, reince priebus, palace intrigue, recusal
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 07:56 PM
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