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Republican lawmakers rally around Sessions as Trump intensifies pressure

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WASHINGTON  - Top Republican lawmakers rallied to the defense of Jeff Sessions on Tuesday as allies of the attorney general said President Donald Trump appeared to be trying to pressure him to quit by repeatedly criticizing him on Twitter and in interviews.

Trump said again he was frustrated that Sessions had recused himself from the federal investigation into possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia and said he would not have appointed him had he known he would do so. He stopped short of saying whether he would fire him.

Two allies of Sessions told Reuters that Trump's public attacks went beyond a president simply venting his frustration but were part of a deliberate campaign to encourage the attorney general to step down.

They said Trump was likely reluctant to fire Sessions after his sacking of FBI Director James Comey backfired and led to the appointment of an independent special counsel, Robert Mueller, whose wide-ranging probe into contacts between Trump aides and Russian officials has cast a deep shadow over Trump's presidency.

The Kremlin says it did not interfere in the election, and Trump has denied any collusion.

Asked about Sessions' future, Trump said at a news conference on Tuesday, "Time will tell. Time will tell."

The two allies of Sessions said the attorney general, who was the first Republican senator to back Trump's presidential campaign, has been deeply offended by the public berating from his boss, but his resolve to stay is strong.

It is not clear though whether that will be possible in the long term if Sessions' relationship with the president irretrievably breaks down.

As Trump and top White House aides stepped up their attacks on Sessions on Tuesday, Republican lawmakers, stunned by the extraordinary scene of a president lambasting a member of his own cabinet, push backed strongly.

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Muslim Global: Republican lawmakers rally around Sessions as Trump intensifies pressure
Republican lawmakers rally around Sessions as Trump intensifies pressure
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