President Donald Trump drew a sharp rebuttal from his attorney general on Thursday after he gave a scathing assessment of Jeff Sessions as being unable to take control of the Justice Department.
Sessions, in a rare rebuttal to Trump, issued a statement defending the integrity of his department.
“I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in,” he said. “… While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”
Trump intensified his criticism of the Justice Department in a Fox News interview aired on Thursday as the White House grappled to respond to Tuesday’s conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on multiple fraud counts and guilty plea by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that implicated the president.
The Republican president reprised a litany of complaints about the Justice Department and the FBI, attacking both without providing evidence they had treated him and his supporters unfairly.
Trump also renewed his criticism of Sessions, blaming him for what he called corruption at the Justice Department.
“I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department,” Trump said.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed a slight drop in support among Republicans for Trump in the wake of the Manafort conviction and the Cohen plea.
The poll, conducted from Tuesday evening to Thursday, found that 78 percent of Republicans approved of Trump, down from 81 percent in a seven-day poll that ended on Monday.
Among Democrats, 11 percent said they approved of Trump, down from 15 percent in the earlier poll.
Overall, 37 percent of adults said they approved of Trump’s performance in office – down from 43 percent in the earlier poll.
Trump’s approval numbers have been relatively stable since he took office, when compared with his predecessors, and his popularity has not wavered much among Republicans.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,688 American adults, including 704 Democrats and 587 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of the poll’s precision, of 3 percentage points for the entire sample, 4 points for the Democrats and 5 points for the Republicans.