WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he never would have hired Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he had known the top law official would recuse himself from a probe into Russia's alleged election meddling.
In an interview with the New York Times, the president also criticised Sessions' recent testimony before a Senate panel which is investigating possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, saying he had given "some bad answers."
Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russian probe in March after the Washington Post reported that he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.
But Trump said Sessions had acted unfairly in taking the job in the first place if he had felt in any way compromised.
"How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you,'" Trump said.
"It's extremely unfair - and that's a mild word - to the president." In an appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, Sessions vehemently denied any collusion with Russia to tilt last year's US election in Trump's favour, branding the suggestion an "appalling and detestable lie."
He also engaged in testy exchanges with several senators who pressed him for details on his discussions with Trump - which he refused to provide in the name of confidentiality.
"Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers," the president said in his interview with the Times.
"He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren't."