Twelve hours after President Trump called his attorney general's actions "DISGRACEFUL" in a morning tweet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions left a nearly two-hour dinner with two of his top lawyers — and the next two people in line to run the Justice Department should Sessions be fired or resign.
Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Solicitor General Noel Francisco left Central Michel Richard, an upscale DC restaurant a block away from the Justice Department, a little before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The trio had no comment regarding Trump's tweet, which attacked Sessions for his decision to refer allegations regarding abuse of the FISA warrant process to the department's inspector general. Axios first reported that the three men had gone to the very public dinner.
Earlier in the day, Sessions had issued a surprisingly confrontational response, saying his decision was part of the "appropriate process," and adding, "As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution."
After dinner, however, Sessions wasn't commenting — including about his former fellow Alabama senator saying that he would resign if Trump treated him the way he treats Sessions. ("Absolutely not," Sen. Richard Shelby said, when asked on Fox News if he would stay under the circumstances faced by Sessions. "I wouldn't be anybody's whipping boy, I wouldn't be belittled because the president is saying he doesn't have any confidence in me.")
Shelby isn't alone. Trump's tweet led one conservative lawyer to reach out to BuzzFeed News Wednesday with his thoughts on the tweet.
"Even leaving aside its sheer baseness, this tweet is idiotic on multiple levels," the conservative lawyer, who at one point considered taking a job in the administration and still has close ties to it, told BuzzFeed News, providing a list of six reasons why:
"1. The most obvious—if it's really 'disgraceful,' then, well, you're the president, you can fire the AG.
"2. Or at least, if you have all these burning questions, you can call him.
"3. The IG is the perfect vehicle to ferret out wrongdoing. Not only is he respected and diligent—he unearthed the Strzok-Page emails, after all—but if he actually finds criminality, then you’ve got a politically bulletproof basis to prosecute.
"4. If you take the matter from the IG, it’s going to be handled by career prosecutors, and you’re not going to like them any more than any 'Obama guy,' and they’re going to take just as long.
"5. Since you don’t have a confirmed Criminal Division head, the confirmed political appointee in charge of those career lawyers would be your favorite 'Democrat' prosecutor, Rod Rosenstein, who reports to your 'disgraceful' AG. How's them apples?
"6. And by the way, the IG *is* a 'Justice Department lawyer.'"
"Multidimensionally reprehensible," the lawyer concluded.