Attorney General Jeff Sessions Steps Down at Trump's Request

Matthew Whitaker's politics

Matthew Whitaker's politics

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pushed out Wednesday as the country's chief law enforcement officer after enduring more than a year of blistering and personal attacks from US President Donald Trump over his recusal from the Russian Federation investigation.

At the top of his resignation letter to Trump, Sessions noted he was doing so at the president's request. He took credit for reversing a recent rise in violent crime and for taking a hardline stance on illegal immigration and gangs.

In his absence, Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will fill in as acting attorney general.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pushed out on Wednesday in what could potentially trigger consequences as significant as the dissolution of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions said that he did not think he should lead the investigation since he had been a Trump campaign surrogate.

Privately, Trump has derided Sessions as "Mr Magoo", a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic and bumbling, according to people with whom he has spoken.

Sessions' ouster came just over an hours after Trump said he liked members of his Cabinet but repeated his line that "everyone leaves" an administration at some point.

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Sessions's recusal stems from the fact he was an active supporter of Trump's 2016 campaign.

Sessions had been under attack from Trump for more than a year, and has been rumored to be on the president's chopping block for some time now.

As The Washington Post noted, Whitaker has made public statements expressing skepticism towards the Mueller investigation. Appearing on CNN in July 2017, Whitaker once floated the idea that Trump could impede Mueller without firing him by simply allowing the attorney general to defund his operation.

The departure creates uncertainty at the Justice Department, but also for special counsel Robert Mueller's office, which is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the USA election that delivered a Trump White House. It is not clear whether Mueller was told ahead of time.

Despite it all, Sessions never found himself back in favor with the president.

"But first you're going to see turmoil because you're going to see Sessions resigning, maybe as soon as today, tomorrow, this week before he's fired", she said. "It would create a constitutional crisis if this were a prelude to ending or greatly limiting the Mueller investigation".

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