President Donald Trump defended embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday night, calling the former Alabama senator “an honest man” and accusing Democrats of “a total witch hunt.”
It is the sixth time Trump has used that term on Twitter.
Many Democrats called for Sessions to resign after a report that Sessions had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year, appearing to contradict what he said during his Senate confirmation hearings.
During the hearings, Sessions said, “I have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
Sessions said Thursday he would recuse himself from all Trump-related investigations.
The president, however, placed the blame on Democrats and “illegal leaks of classified and other information.”
On January 10 — 10 days before his inauguration and the same day BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier of allegations about Trump and his ties to Russia — Trump tweeted “FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”
On May 15, 2016, then-candidate Trump tweeted that “The media is really on a witch-hunt against me. False reporting, and plenty of it - but we will prevail.” The tweet came The New York Times published a piece called “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private.” The story outlined “unwelcome advances” and “unsettling workplace conduct over decades.”
On August 24, 2013, long before he entered politics as a candidate for office, Trump retweeted a message about Trump University and a “Liberal Witch Hunt.” Trump agreed to a $25 million settlement to end fraud cases against Trump University shortly after the 2016 election. He paid the money days before his inauguration.
On June 24, 2013, Trump tweeted a link to a New York Post story, telling his followers to read an article about New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s “witch hunt against Republicans.”
On Nov. 4, 2011, Trump tweeted a link to a segment on Fox News during which he discussed the “witch hunt” against then-Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain over claims of sexual harassment. Cain eventually was accused of sexual harassment by at least four women.
“I think it’s a very ugly witch hunt and I think it’s very unfair,” Trump said at the time. “You say, ‘Oh, hello darling, how are you? And you get sued because you’ve destroyed somebody’s life. It’s ridiculous.”