Jeff Sessions out as attorney general

President Donald Trump on Wednesday fired ...

Posted: Nov 8, 2018 8:49 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2018 8:49 AM

President Donald Trump on Wednesday fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"At your request I am submitting my resignation," Sessions wrote in a letter to White House chief of staff John Kelly.

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READ: Jeff Sessions' resignation letter

Matthew Whitaker will take over as acting attorney general, the President said.

Whitaker is expected to take charge of the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Whitaker has been openly critical of Mueller and the investigation and Democrats immediately called on him to recuse himself, just as Sessions had.

RELATED: Trump's replacement for Sessions once argued the Mueller probe goes too far

"We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well ...We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date," Trump tweeted.

The move is an abrupt end to what had been a tumultuous tenure for Sessions, originally one of Trump's earliest and most loyal surrogates as an Alabama Republican senator. He was a key figure in implementing Trump's vision for America and significantly rolled back Obama-era policies on immigration, police reform and civil rights.

Sessions was an enforcer of much of the Trump administration's hardline approach on immigration and regularly praised the President's tough words on crime. But even as he continued to carry out the Trump agenda, his relationship with the President remained strained and fraught for months due to the ongoing Mueller investigation.

Sessions received the request to resign from Kelly, not the President, on Wednesday morning, an administration official said. It is not clear whether Mueller was told ahead of time.

Sessions believed that Rosenstein has handled the investigation properly after it was dropped "right in his lap," according to a source familiar with Sessions' thinking.

"[Rosenstein is] a professional, he's tried to do the right thing and he's handled it as well as anybody could," the source said of Sessions' views on the matter.

However, the source said that Sessions himself has been frustrated that Mueller's investigation has not yet concluded, but DOJ officials have "tried to do the right thing every day and not be involved in arguing the case in the media."

In a statement, Whitaker said he will lead a "fair" department with high ethical standards.

"It is a true honor that the President has confidence in my ability to lead the Department of Justice as Acting Attorney General. I am committed to leading a fair Department with the highest ethical standards, that upholds the rule of law, and seeks justice for all Americans," he said.

Trump constantly criticized Sessions

Sessions' ouster came a day after the midterm elections saw Republicans hold onto control of the Senate -- which would confirm Trump's eventual permanent choice to head the Justice Department -- and just weeks after Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud and Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight charges including tax fraud and bank fraud.

RELATED: Trump must reckon with new realities in wake of the election

Sessions was aware that Cohen was facing bank fraud and tax violations but had been walled off from the campaign finance aspects of the investigation into Trump's former lawyer, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN.

Trump's distaste for Sessions was well known -- and publicly reinforced by the President himself on a regular basis -- after the attorney general recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 campaign early in Trump's term.

RELATED: Trump calls Attorney General Jeff Sessions 'scared stiff and Missing in Action'

The President mocked Sessions in August as "scared stiff and Missing in Action." Later the same month as Trump continued to rail against him, Sessions issued a statement firing back at Trump and declaring, "While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action."

RELATED: Sessions hits back at Trump: DOJ won't be 'improperly influenced'

Just days later, Trump knocked the Sessions-led Justice Department for indicting two Trump-supporting Republican congressmen ahead of the midterm elections. Both lawmakers won their re-election bids Tuesday.

But Sessions hung on, and although there was no formal reconciliation, the President allowed him to stay, even despite the unwillingness of White House spokespeople to publicly confirm, for days, that Trump had confidence in the attorney general.

In early August, Trump tweeted that Sessions "should stop" Mueller's investigation, raising questions as to whether the President was attempting to obstruct justice. Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN's Dana Bash that Trump was merely "expressing his opinion on his favorite medium."

Sessions, for his part, consistently maintained that his recusal decision was made in consultation with career ethics officials at the Justice Department and was in the works from the time he was sworn in.

Democrats demand continued independence for Mueller

Top Democrats immediately called for Mueller's investigation to be allowed to proceed.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the new acting attorney general to recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller probe.

"Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general," Schumer said.

RELATED: Democrats to use House majority to launch Trump investigations

Former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder declared interference with the special counsel "a red line."

"Anyone who attempts to interfere with or obstruct the Mueller inquiry must be held accountable. This is a red line. We are a nation of laws and norms not subject to the self interested actions of one man," Holder tweeted.

New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler tweeted a vow for accountability. Nadler is poised to chair the House Judiciary Committee next year.

"Americans must have answers immediately as to the reasoning behind @realDonaldTrump removing Jeff Sessions from @TheJusticeDept. Why is the President making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller's investigation? We will be holding people accountable," Nadler tweeted.

Immigration bonded him with Trump from the start

Sessions' campaign loyalty to Trump earned him a plumb spot in the administration as attorney general, and Sessions' former aides and allies, including prominent Trump adviser Stephen Miller, spread throughout the administration in key posts across multiple agencies.

Under Sessions, the Justice Department has been aggressive in trying to cut off funds to and punish sanctuary cities -- though the courts have repeatedly admonished many of those efforts -- and was the primary agency that justified the ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, a program that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

Sessions moved to push the limits of his authority over the nation's immigration system and reinterpreted asylum law as he clashed with immigration judges. He has been the voice of many of the administration's most aggressive immigration priorities, and was a staunch defender of the administration's policies last summer that led to the separation of immigrant families and led to widespread outcry.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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