WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday that he wished he had picked someone other than Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, renewing a familiar line of attack against the top U.S. law enforcement official over his self-recusal from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

In morning tweets, Trump quoted Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who during a television interview on CBS voiced sympathy for Trump’s dissatisfaction with Sessions.

“If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too,” Gowdy said, according to Trump’s tweets. “There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!”

After that, Trump added, in his own voice: “And I wish I did!”

The president’s remarks are the latest in what his critics see as a prolonged effort to undermine the Justice Department and the FBI – and by extension, the special counsel probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the election.

On Twitter and in public, Trump has repeatedly denigrated the law enforcement institutions and their leaders – calling his attorney general “beleaguered,” top leaders at the FBI “crooked” and even putting the word “Justice” in quotes to denote his disdain for the department.

Legal analysts say the president’s constant attacks threaten federal law enforcement’s traditional independence inside the executive branch, and that leaders there have taken unorthodox steps to appease the commander in chief, such as expanding an inspector general investigation upon presidential request.

Trump, as president, could fire Sessions at any time, but for nearly a year, he has chosen instead merely to insult his attorney general. People familiar with the president’s thinking said Trump feels bound to keep Sessions because firing him could have damaging political consequences.

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