Former Speaker of the House and bestselling author Newt Gingrich gave his thoughts on the rumors of tension between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a Facebook Live interview with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow Monday.
In last week’s New York Times interview, Trump appeared to question his decision to appoint Sessions to his post atop the Department of Justice over Sessions’s February recusal from the Russia probe then under DOJ jurisdiction. That decision eventually led to the appointment of ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel. “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 president said.
Gingrich, author of the new New York Times #1 bestseller Understanding Trump, agreed with the substance of President Trump’s objection to Session’s decision, telling Marlow:
I think probably he made a mistake, both in not checking with the president and then recusing himself. It was a huge shock to Trump. I don’t think he needed to recuse himself. I think he actually gave the Russia story more legitimacy than it deserved.
Gingrinch, however, was quick to turn to the importance of Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest and most enthusiastic backers, to the MAGA movement’s success. “I was in the room with Jeff when he hosted us at Trump’s first visit to Washington. He was chairman of the meeting at a time when to be for Trump as a U.S. Senator was a very lonely business,” Gingrich told Marlow, noting Sessions’s loyalty the campaign even in it’s darkest days:
I was with Sessions when Trump had some very tough times with ‘locker-room talk’ and a bunch of other stuff and he looked like he was ten points down. Sessions never backed off it. So there’s a certain degree to which the president I think owes Sessions.
The speaker finished his thoughts on the controversy by trying dampen speculation about a shakeup at DOJ. He praised Sessions’s job performance since the recusal, saying:
Okay, the President’s expressed his opinions, it’s over, move on. Sessions is doing a great job cooperating with Homeland Security on locking up and getting rid of MS-13 Gang members – huge undertaking. He’s doing a great job on sanctuary cities. He is going to turn out to be, I think, a very important attorney general and my hope is the president is going to hang in there and respect the fact that his was his earliest senatorial supporter, his most loyal senatorial supporter. The president is a very existential guy, he got it off his chest. Enough. That’s over. Let’s work together for a better future.
Also on the agenda for the interview was the recent replacement of Sean Spicer with Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director. Gingrich explained that the problem, in his view, was not Spicer’s skill or dedication, but that the temperamental gap between he and Trump was too wide. “It’s not that Spicer’s not a good guy; He is, Sean is a good guy,” Gingrich told Marlow, adding:
Sean’s a reasonable, Washington-based normal guy, serving a president who’s an unreasonable national figure who instinctively fights. And I think Scaramucci, being a fellow New Yorker, they talk the same language, they have the same style, they’re both multi-millionaires, successful entrepreneurs.
Gingrich then gave his thoughts on the White House Comms Director’s prospects. “I think Scaramucci will actually be tougher for Trump because I think he’ll say to them, ‘you’re just wrong.’ Spicer didn’t quite have the standing to look Trump in the eye and say ‘you’re just wrong,'” he said, “And I think it will be fascinating to watch.”
“Trump will do fewer tweets on controversial issues because Scaramucci will be ahead of it. Scaramucci will be fighting so much that Trump will relax just a little bit,” Gingrich predicted.
When Marlow brought up Scaramucci’s litany of decidedly un-Trumpian policy positions, Gingrich was unconcerned. He paraphrased Scaramucci’s explanation as, “I may have had a lot of opinions, now I work for Donald J. Trump” and noted hopefully that, “Very few people get close to Trump and Trump is more like them, people who get close to Trump become more like Trump.”