WASHINGTON • United States Attorney-General Jeff Sessions had suggested in the past few weeks that he might resign amid a widening rift with President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mr Sessions has come under fire from the President over his recusal from an investigation of Russian meddling in last year's US presidential election, an inquiry that is now exploring whether Mr Trump's associates colluded with Moscow.
The Attorney-General's suggestion that he might consider quitting was reported earlier by ABC News and confirmed by a person familiar with the matter, who discussed it on condition of anonymity.
Mr Trump has also assailed the Justice Department for its handling of the administration's controversial travel ban, and he accused it in a series of tweets on Monday of weakening his plans to limit entry for citizens from about half a dozen Muslim nations. Both versions of Mr Trump's travel ban have been blocked by federal courts.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to say whether Mr Trump retains confidence in Mr Sessions following Mr Trump's tweets on the travel ban. Mr Spicer said: "I have not had a discussion with him about that." He gave a similar answer last month when asked whether the President still had confidence in then FBI director James Comey. Mr Trump fired Mr Comey later that day.
Mr Sessions, 70, occupies a unique role in Mr Trump's world. He was the first senator to endorse him as a candidate, and defended him without reservation through the darkest moments of the campaign.
Mr Sessions, 70, occupies a unique role in Mr Trump's world. He was the first senator to endorse him as a candidate and defended him without reservation through the darkest moments of the campaign.
After Mr Trump's unexpected victory, the Alabama senator was given his choice of Cabinet positions. Yet, less than a month after taking office as Attorney-General, Mr Sessions found himself at the centre of controversy following reports that he had failed to disclose during his confirmation hearings two conversations he had last year with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Revelations about his contacts with Mr Kislyak forced Mr Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigations.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia hacked and released Democrats' e-mail messages during the campaign to hurt candidate Hillary Clinton and, ultimately, try to help Mr Trump win.
With the recusal by Mr Sessions, oversight of Russia-related investigations now falls to Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein.
Mr Rosenstein was scheduled to testify yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee about US surveillance programmes.