President Donald Trump asked a longtime associate whether he could dismiss Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Axios reported on Tuesday.
In a phone call to his associate, Axios said, Trump asked, “What would happen if I fired Sessions?”
The associate reportedly replied: “If you’re going to fire people at Justice, don’t you want to save that bullet for Mueller?”
Trump’s associate was referring to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and whether it colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favour.
Trump has ramped up his public attacks on both Mueller and Sessions in recent days out of frustration over the expanding FBI investigation, as well as two congressional intelligence committee investigations into his campaign.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.
“Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – ‘quietly working to boost Clinton.’ So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity,” Trump tweeted earlier in the morning, apparently attributing the quote to Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Trump also kicked off the week on Monday by asking why the “beleaguered” Sessions wasn’t looking into what Trump alleged were Hillary Clinton’s “crimes and Russia relations.”
Trump has soured on Mueller despite initially putting out a statement when Mueller was appointed saying he was “[looking] forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
Trump has since called the investigations into his campaign a “witch hunt” led by Democrats, who he says are upset about their election loss. He has also, in recent days, wondered aloud why a special counsel hadn’t been appointed to investigate what he called “illegal acts” by the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump also publicly warned Mueller last week against investigating the Trump family’s finances, saying that Mueller would be crossing a line if he did so.
“Look, this is about Russia,” Trump said. “So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company.”
Trump’s comments came the day before a Bloomberg report that said Mueller had expanded his probe to look at Trump’s past business dealings.
Some have speculated that Trump’s public attacks on his Sessions, his own Cabinet member, may indicate he’s setting the stage to appoint someone who will fire Mueller. On Monday, Axios reported that Trump was weighing replacing Sessions with Rudy Giliani, an avid Trump supporter and early campaign surrogate.
Giuliani denied the report on Monday and said that Sessions made the right decision when he recused himself from any current or future investigations into the Trump campaign.