US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has responded to Donald Trump’s latest attack on him by insisting that the justice department he heads will not bend to political pressure.
The apparent rebuke of Mr Trump came after the president made personal comments about him during an interview.
Mr Trump has been vociferous in his criticism of the Department of Justice.
He has been particularly riled by its handling of the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mr Sessions, an early supporter of Mr Trump’s campaign, recused himself from that inquiry and handed control to his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.
That decision, and the ongoing progress of the inquiry under special counsel Robert Mueller, has provoked frequent outbursts from Mr Trump, both in person and on his Twitter feed.
Two days ago, in the most dramatic development yet linked to that inquiry, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud, and Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to crimes including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
What did Sessions say?
“While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” he said in a statement.
“I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”
What did Trump say?
In an earlier interview with the Fox and Friends programme, Mr Trump said: “As I’ve said I wanted to stay uninvolved. But when everybody see’s what going on in the justice department I always put justice now with quotes.
“It’s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done. Or he should have told me.
“Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself, and then you wouldn’t have put him in. He took the job and then he said I’m going to recuse myself. I said: ‘What kind of a man is this?’
“And by the way he was on the campaign. You know the only reason I gave him the job? Because I felt loyalty, he was an original supporter. He was on the campaign. He knows there was no collusion. And what’s come out of Manafort, no collusion. What’s come out of Michael Cohen, no collusion.”