Donald Trump attacked Jeff Sessions on Twitter Wednesday morning, appearing to declare his attorney general “DISGRACEFUL” because Sessions had said he would direct the Justice Department inspector general—an insufficiently aggressive office, Trump suggested—to investigate Republican complaints of surveillance abuse.
At the time, Sessions’ move was uncontroversial among Republicans. According to the Washington Post, when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the topic Tuesday, she said that although she had not spoken to Trump, “I would imagine he certainly supports the decision to look into what we feel to be some wrongdoing.”
But Trump, it seems, would rather have DOJ lawyers go after his own administration’s intelligence agencies. The “potentially massive FISA abuse” he warns about refers to the House Intelligence Committee memo by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, which alleged that FBI and DOJ officials used evidence tainted by partisan bias to obtain a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. As Democrats have argued in their own memo rebutting those claims, their suspicions about Page were based on more than just that one source, and the application for the warrant disclosed the bias behind that source—the Steele dossier—to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The Office of the Inspector General is part of the DOJ, but it serves mostly as a watchdog to investigate internal misconduct and issue reports in instances of noncriminal behavior. The office is currently investigating the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Obviously calling one’s own attorney general “disgraceful” is a bad look. But it’s not out of character for Trump, who has attacked his top law enforcement official on Twitter before, as when he blasted Sessions for a “VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes” and questioned Sessions’ decision not to replace “Comey friend” Andrew McCabe, who was then the acting FBI director. Trump’s attacks on Sessions began after the attorney general recused himself last March from the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling.