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.

Continents and regions

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Investigations

Jeff Sessions

Law and legal system

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Donald Trump

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Justice departments

Robert Mueller

US federal government

White House

Government organizations - US

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

Elections and campaigns

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.

Confirmed Cases: 13260

Reported Deaths: 625
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89324
Lauderdale67855
Madison65421
Scott58910
Neshoba51231
Forrest48034
Jones46713
DeSoto4616
Leake38410
Holmes36523
Rankin3496
Jackson29613
Copiah2784
Attala27014
Lincoln24320
Monroe24224
Leflore24025
Harrison2346
Newton2243
Lamar2194
Yazoo2152
Pearl River20327
Pike19611
Adams18615
Lowndes1607
Noxubee1586
Washington1535
Warren1506
Bolivar14010
Jasper1393
Oktibbeha13410
Smith13110
Covington1271
Chickasaw12612
Clarke12616
Kemper12510
Lafayette1233
Carroll11310
Wayne1090
Marion1088
Lee1045
Clay993
Winston981
Coahoma983
Lawrence901
Hancock8711
Simpson850
Itawamba857
Yalobusha824
Wilkinson829
Montgomery781
Sunflower773
Grenada752
Jefferson Davis712
Union715
Tippah7011
Marshall693
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne581
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall510
Tunica483
Perry462
Jefferson400
Prentiss383
Stone300
Choctaw292
Webster271
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George191
Alcorn151
Benton140
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 14478

Reported Deaths: 551
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile1996109
Jefferson161488
Montgomery118630
Marshall6499
Tuscaloosa50512
Lee49832
Franklin4476
Shelby43319
Tallapoosa39662
Butler34411
Chambers33623
Madison2964
Baldwin2749
Elmore2637
Etowah23610
DeKalb2213
Coffee2001
Walker1981
Dallas1973
Sumter1916
Lowndes18610
Houston1644
Morgan1621
Autauga1593
Calhoun1413
Choctaw1414
Pike1360
Colbert1362
Marengo1336
Hale1293
Russell1280
Lauderdale1282
Randolph1257
Wilcox1187
Marion11310
Bullock1111
Barbour1101
Clarke1022
St. Clair1021
Pickens934
Talladega912
Greene894
Chilton871
Dale830
Cullman760
Limestone740
Jackson692
Covington651
Washington645
Winston620
Macon602
Bibb591
Crenshaw582
Henry562
Blount491
Escambia433
Lawrence420
Coosa331
Geneva330
Cherokee332
Perry310
Monroe282
Clay272
Conecuh251
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Few Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 79°
Oxford
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 83°
Starkville
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 81°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather