Trump says he's "very disappointed" in Sessions

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (all times local):

3:33 p.m.

President Donald Trump says that he is "very disappointed" in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Tuesday that he has not made up his mind as to whether to fire his longtime ally.

He told the newspaper he is "looking" at the possibility of firing the former Alabama senator and did not suggest that he will curtail his criticism of Sessions.

Trump also downplayed the importance of Sessions being the first senator to endorse his presidential candidacy, saying that "it's not like a great loyal thing."

Trump is angry that Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the relationship between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia. Officials say Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Sessions.


3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump's pick for a top Justice Department position is defending Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

Brian Benczkowski, tapped to lead the department's criminal division, said during his Tuesday confirmation hearing that he did not know on what information Sessions based his recusal. But he says he has "every confidence he reviewed the facts, he applied the law, and he made the right decision for the department on that basis."

Trump last week delivered an excoriating rebuke of Sessions' recusal, saying he never would have hired him for attorney general if he had known he would step aside from the probe. Trump's criticism has only intensified since then.

Benczkowski says Trump's comments about Sessions are "difficult and painful for me to hear."


10:30 a.m.

Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump gets to decide his personnel. Ryan's comment came amid reports that the president has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Ryan told reporters on Tuesday that it's the prerogative of the president to decide who works for him and if the president has concerns he would talk to the individual.

Other Republicans, most notably Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, offered a strong defense of Sessions, saying Trump shouldn't base prosecutorial decisions on politics. Trump launched a fresh Twitter tirade Tuesday morning against Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse his candidacy.

Ryan repeatedly said it is up to the president on personnel decisions.


10:25 a.m.

Some Republican lawmakers are defending Attorney General Jeff Sessions against President Donald Trump's intensifying criticism.

Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to accuse the former senator and campaign ally of taking a "VERY weak" position at the Justice Department on "Hillary Clinton crimes."

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says the tweet "is highly inappropriate." He says prosecutorial decisions based on politics would "run away from the long-standing American tradition of separating the law from politics regardless of party."

And he calls Sessions "a rock-solid conservative, but above else he believes in the rule of law."

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican echoed the sentiment, writing on Twitter, "Mr. President, maybe just try a meeting? This is beneath the office - of any held office - from city councilman to POTUS."