A new book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman says former president Donald Trump routinely used a slur often employed to describe persons with intellectual disabilities when speaking of the first person to serve as attorney general in his administration, ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions.
Mr Sessions, who was the first member of the upper chamber to endorse Mr Trump during the 2016 election and advised his campaign, drew the then-president’s ire and scorn after he followed Department of Justice policy by recusing himself from the department’s probe into ties between Mr Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
Though he enthusiastically implemented Mr Trump’s hardline criminal justice and immigration policies, Mr Sessions’ decision to not interfere in a probe in which he could have been a witness became a source of consternation for the president, who often took to mocking the Alabamian’s southern accent during political rallies.
In Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, Ms Haberman writes that Mr Trump’s fury with Mr Sessions was such that he would routinely rant to officials about the attorney general’s refusal to resign.
“When officials wanted to redirect Trump from a tirade directed at them, they would mention the Justice Department,” she wrote.
Ms Haberman added that in response, Trump would then complain that he should receive credit for nominating Mr Sessions to the top Justice Department post as “the first mentally retarded attorney general” in US history.
Mr Trump and Mr Sessions frequently clashed over the latter’s refusal to let his department operate as a weapon against Mr Trump’s political enemies, with Mr Sessions declaring in a 2018 statement that the DOJ “[would] not be improperly influenced by political considerations” on his watch after Mr Trump complained that he “never took control” of the department.
Mr Sessions resigned after the 2018 midterm elections, and Mr Trump would later exact revenge by thwarting his attempt to return to the Senate in the 2020 election.