Donald Trump has stepped up his public insults of Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, proclaiming, “I don’t have an attorney general”.

Trump’s statement, in an interview with the political website The Hill, tips off his ongoing concern with the Trump-Russia investigation which is closing on him and his inner circle. But it also showed his concern that he cannot get full implementation of his anti-immigration measures, and possibly worry over complications with the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

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Trump said he was “so sad over Jeff Sessions”, implying that Sessions’ support during the 2016 campaign was self-serving: “He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be Attorney-General, and I didn’t see it.”

Trump then pressed his chief complaint, Sessions’ recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation — and thus the inability to limit or even halt the inquiry by firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Sessions was forced to recuse himself in March 2017 because, in his confirmation hearings, he failed to recall his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016.

Trump chided:

He went through the nominating process and he did very poorly. I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered.

He gets in and probably because of the experience that he had going through the nominating when somebody asked him the first question about Hillary Clinton or something he said, “I recuse myself, I recuse myself.”

After the interview’s publication, Trump stepped back a bit in comments to reporters on the White House lawn: “I’m disappointed in the Attorney-General for numerous reasons, but we have an Attorney-General.”

Rather than fire Sessions, Trump has preferred to humiliate him regularly, both in private and in public. He has called the Attorney General “Mr Magoo” and mocked a supposed lack of intelligence, saying that Sessions speaks with “marbles in his mouth” and graduated from the University of Alabama, supposedly far inferior to an Ivy League school.

Trump went beyond the Russia investigation in the latest interview, saying he was unhappy with Sessions’ performance on issues such as immigration: “I’m not happy at the border. I’m not happy with numerous things, not just this.”

Sessions angered Trump last month by pushing back in a public statement, saying the Justice Department “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations”. That spurred more speculation about the Attorney General’s departure, with Republican strategists assessing that Sessions will not be removed before November’s elections but pushed out soon afterwards.

As usual, Trump left the question of Sessions’ future hanging yesterday:

We’ll see what happens. We’ll see how it goes with Jeff.

I’m very disappointed in Jeff. Very disappointed.