Sessions brushes off Trump saying he would have 'picked somebody else' to head DOJ

Thomson Reuters

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday brushed off sharp criticism from President Donald Trump over his recusal from the Justice Department's Russia investigation, saying he loved his job and planned to continue serving.

"We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate," Sessions said at a news conference announcing a cyber crime bust.

Sessions was flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who were both also criticized by the president in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday.

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Trump took a broad swipe at his administration's top law officers in the interview, saying he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general if he had known he would recuse himself. The Republican president also noted Rosenstein's roots in Democratic Baltimore and that McCabe's wife took money from a leading Democrat during a political campaign.

Sessions recused himself in March from the probe into allegations Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible ties with the Trump campaign. He did so after failing to disclose at his confirmation hearing that he had held meetings last year with Russia's ambassador.

"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," the Times quoted Trump as saying.

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Sessions was Trump's first supporter in the U.S. Senate and helped shape his political team throughout the campaign and into the transition period after the Nov. 8 election.

He declined to acknowledge Trump's criticism on Thursday.

"I have the honor of serving as attorney general. It's something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself," Sessions said.

Similarly, Rosenstein, asked about Trump's remarks that there were very few Republicans in Baltimore, declined to comment. "I was proud to be here yesterday, I'm proud to be here today, I'll be proud to work here tomorrow," he said