Will Jeff Sessions Get Fired Over His Search for Dirt on James Comey?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands during a news conference to discuss "efforts to reduce violent crime" at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on December 15, 2017. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Attorney General Jeff Sessions looked for dirt on former FBI Director James Comey after the top lawman testified in Congress in March that his agency was investigating the Trump campaign, according to a new report.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported an aide to Sessions approached a Capitol Hill staffer two days after Comey's testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20.

The report cites a source familiar with the meeting who said Sessions's aide asked for dirt on the former FBI director—who was fired by President Donald Trump on May 9—and that the attorney general wanted to be able to get one negative article each day about Comey into the media.

"This did not happen and would not happen," said Sarah Isgur Flores, the top spokeswoman at the Justice Department, of the meeting in response to the Times.

The fact that "the NYT reported the anecdote about a Sessions aide seeking dirt on Comey—in the face of a flat denial from @SarahFloresDOJ—suggests the sourcing must be impeccable," tweeted NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian in response to the report.

The news "is going to absolutely destroy Sessions' credibility inside DOJ and his ability to lead the department. His job isn't tenable any more," wrote Matthew Miller, who headed communications at the DOJ in the Obama administration, on Twitter on Thursday.

Sessions has faced assaults on all sides—including from the president—and the report erodes the impartiality he is meant to maintain as America's top lawyer, Miller suggested. On Thursday two congressional Republicans called for Sessions to step down, not because of the report, but because of his failure to contain leaks they say come from the FBI.

This is going to absolutely destroy Sessions’ credibility inside DOJ and his ability to lead the department. His job isn’t tenable any more. https://t.co/JHh8oLBjAv

— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 5, 2018

Last summer, Trump told the Times he was disappointed Sessions stepped aside from overseeing the investigation that Comey testified was "investigating the nature of any links between those associated with the Trump campaign" and Russia's effort to interfere in the 2016 election.

Read more: Russia probe: Trump asked White House top lawyer to stop Jeff Sessions from recusing himself, report says

Sessions recused himself from the investigation in early March because of his involvement in the Trump campaign and said last summer he was "confident" it was the right move. The new Times report states White House counsel Donald McGahn was sent by Trump to convince Sessions to "remain in charge of the inquiry" at the time he was mulling recusal from the investigation.

Last July, Trump told the Times he wouldn't have hired Sessions if he knew in advance the attorney general would recuse himself. "If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair—and that's a mild word—to the president," Trump said.

Sessions's job seemed to hang in the balance. "Why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillary's crimes & Russia relations?" Trump asked on Twitter, pressuring Sessions to act soon after the interview was published.

After pressure from Trump, Sessions has opened multiple investigations into leaks to the media. On Thursday, The Hill reported the Justice Department had launched an investigation of the Clinton Foundation and whether it conducted illegal activities or "pay-to-play" politics during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

On Thursday, two members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus in the House called in an opinion piece for Sessions to be replaced because he has failed to purge partisans against President Trump from the FBI, which they accuse of leaking stories about the ongoing Russia investigation to the media. Its authors, Representatives Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, are backing the president's claims that a probe of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia by special counsel Robert Mueller is a Democrat-driven "witch hunt."

Another report by the The Daily Beast on Thursday said the Justice Department is also now re-examining Clinton's use of a private email server to conduct official business during the Obama administration after an investigation into wrongdoing by the FBI cleared her in the summer of 2016.

Early this week, former Attorney General Eric Holder told The Huffington Post he is "disturbed" by Sessions's failure to defend the FBI and Justice Department against repeated attacks from the president to "delegitimize" the institutions.

"The president's ongoing campaign to tear down the wall between the Justice Department and the White House seems to be working," Miller told The Daily Beast. "The answer is to tell the White House to stay out of investigations and prosecutions, especially when it comes to your political opponents."