Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned on Wednesday, pushed out by President Donald Trump. Matthew Whitaker, Session’s chief of staff, will become acting attorney general and oversee the Mueller probe into Russian collusion with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
What we know
Sessions gave Trump an undated resignation letter.
The letter says the resignation was at Trump’s “request.”
Trump announced Sessions’ departure on Twitter and wrote: “We wish him well.”
Whitaker will be acting attorney general until Trump names a permanent replacement.
Whitaker has previously criticized the Mueller probe, once musing about whether an attorney general could undermine the investigation by cutting its budget.
….We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
What did Sessions write in his resignation letter?
In his undated letter, Sessions wrote he was “submitting his resignation” at the request of the president.
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 7, 2018
Sessions said he had advanced Trump’s political objectives during his time as attorney general. He listed spearheading a crackdown on irregular migrants, breaking up violent “transnational gangs” and tackling the opioid epidemic among his achievements.
“Most importantly, in my time as attorney general, we have restored and upheld the rule of law — a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard.”
Democrats warn Trump
Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat expected to lead the party in the House of Representatives, said the resignation was a “blatant attempt” by Trump to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
“Given his record of threats to undermine & weaken the Russia investigation, Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from any involvement in Mueller’s investigation,” wrote Pelosi on Twitter.
The Democrats’ leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said both houses of the US Congress needed to protect the probe.
“It would create a constitutional crisis if this were a prelude to ending or greatly limiting the Mueller investigation,” he said.
Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee, also said Whitaker should “make a firm commitment not to interfere in the investigation.”
Who is Jeff Sessions?
The Alabama Republican was the first senator to back Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Trump started publicly criticizing him after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in early 2017.