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Who will replace Jeff Sessions?

Washington is swirling with speculation about who President Donald Trump will choose to replace Attorney Gen...

Posted: Nov 8, 2018 9:25 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2018 9:26 AM

Washington is swirling with speculation about who President Donald Trump will choose to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the President ousted his first attorney general Wednesday afternoon.

GOP Senate control will likely smooth the path for Trump to replace Sessions with a preferred name, and CNN reported ahead of the midterm elections that several prominent conservative legal figures were in contention to follow an expected Sessions removal.

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In the meantime, Trump said Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, would be the acting attorney general, with a nominee to come "at a later date."

The following names have cropped up as potential Justice Department leaders: Whitaker, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, former Judge John Michael Luttig, Judge Edith Jones, former Judge Janice Rogers Brown, outgoing GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Matthew Whitaker

Named by Trump on Wednesday as the acting head of the Justice Department, Whitaker was previously Sessions' chief of staff. A CNN report in September, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's fate was openly uncertain, said Justice Department officials had prepared for Whitaker to take over for Rosenstein as the Justice Department's number two.

Multiple sources told CNN that Whitaker spoke with Trump at the time about replacing Rosenstein and that Whitaker told people his understanding was that he could become the next deputy attorney general.

Whitaker is a former CNN legal commentator and former US attorney who directed the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative ethics watchdog group. He ran in the Republican primary for Iowa Senate in 2014. In a CNN op-ed written last year, Whitaker argued that special counsel Robert Mueller was "dangerously close to crossing" a red line following reports that Mueller was looking into Trump's finances as part of his investigation.

Noel Francisco

At the same time Whitaker was considered as a replacement for Rosenstein, CNN reported that Justice Department officials had begun planning for Solicitor General Noel Francisco to step in as acting attorney general to oversee the special counsel probe.

As solicitor general, Francisco is already one of the top authorities within the Justice Department and has regularly defended the Trump administration before the Supreme Court. Francisco came to the administration from the law firm Jones Day, where he worked with recently departed White House counsel Don McGahn.

John Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe was among those floated as a replacement for Sessions ahead of the midterm elections. Ratcliffe is a former federal prosecutor, and he won re-election on Tuesday by an overwhelming margin.

His congressional biography touts his conservative bona fides and experience as a prosecutor, naming terror convictions in particular.

He is a member of the House Judiciary, Homeland Security and Ethics committees.

John Michael Luttig

Luttig is a former federal appellate judge and Justice Department official who left the government to work as general counsel at Boeing.

Before he left for Boeing during the George W. Bush administration, Luttig had been a finalist for vacancies on the Supreme Court, and he denied at the time that he was stepping down because of "the Supreme Court process." Luttig clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative judicial icon who died in 2016.

A source close to Luttig said he had been considered for the role of FBI director after Trump fired James Comey.

Edith Jones

Judge Edith Jones sits on the 5th US Circuit of Court of Appeals, and CNN previously reported that she might be in play as a replacement for Sessions.

Jones, who like Luttig was once considered a potential Supreme Court nominee under Bush, courted controversy five years ago from civil rights groups after she was alleged to have said that she believes some ethnic groups are more prone to violence than others.

Janice Rogers Brown

Janice Rogers Brown has also emerged as a possible candidate.

Brown, a former California Supreme Court associate justice and former US circuit judge, retired from the bench in August 2017 and moved back to California. A source close to her indicated that she would not be interested in the attorney general job and did not want to return to Washington.

Trey Gowdy

A Republican source told CNN that Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was being floated as a potential replacement for Sessions.

The outgoing conservative representative and former prosecutor became widely known during the Obama administration as he pursued an extended investigation into a 2012 deadly attack on a US mission in Benghazi, Libya. But he also repeatedly came to the defense of the Justice Department under Sessions' tenure as attorney general as Trump railed against Sessions and the special counsel investigation. At the same time, he has pressed the department for access to information and clashed with current and former top officials.

Lindsey Graham

Graham has wavered as much or more than anyone in his public opinion of Trump. Graham lashed out against him repeatedly during Trump's presidential bid, but following Trump's win, Graham emerged as one of his top allies. Following an emotional rebuke of his Democratic colleagues during the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Graham's positive position among Trump's supporters has only ascended further.

But, as with Gowdy, he repeatedly defended Sessions from Trump and called for Mueller's independence. He has also publicly denied any interest in leaving the Senate for a position in Trump's Cabinet, and he responded to the news of Sessions' ouster by reaffirming his desire to remain in the Senate.

"As to me, I will be part of a larger Republican majority in the United States Senate -- working with the President and my Republican and Democratic colleagues -- to make America safer and more prosperous," Graham tweeted.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 338079

Reported Deaths: 7523
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23409440
DeSoto23069280
Harrison20064328
Rankin15119290
Jackson14743251
Madison10806227
Lee10568179
Jones8864169
Forrest8408159
Lauderdale7684243
Lowndes6917151
Lamar683789
Lafayette6502124
Washington5551139
Pearl River5060150
Bolivar4923134
Oktibbeha484798
Panola4739112
Warren4690127
Marshall4670106
Pontotoc442873
Monroe4293137
Union429179
Neshoba4232181
Hancock417788
Lincoln4148116
Pike3605113
Leflore3587125
Tate351488
Alcorn346474
Sunflower344994
Adams338488
Scott336676
Yazoo335673
Simpson319290
Copiah319068
Itawamba312480
Coahoma311585
Tippah300568
Prentiss295063
Covington287183
Marion281780
Leake281575
Wayne274643
Grenada267588
George266251
Newton258964
Tishomingo238070
Winston236284
Jasper227548
Attala223373
Stone219437
Chickasaw217560
Holmes197674
Clay194654
Clarke184480
Tallahatchie182742
Calhoun179432
Smith177535
Yalobusha170240
Walthall144448
Lawrence140026
Greene137634
Amite135643
Noxubee134235
Perry132438
Montgomery131544
Carroll125431
Webster119132
Jefferson Davis114234
Tunica113227
Benton105925
Claiborne104831
Kemper101429
Humphreys99833
Franklin86723
Quitman84319
Choctaw81819
Wilkinson76532
Jefferson70428
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 574737

Reported Deaths: 11492
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson839571589
Mobile46611857
Madison36938532
Tuscaloosa26841465
Shelby26769255
Montgomery25853624
Baldwin24213326
Lee16897181
Calhoun15210332
Morgan14990289
Etowah14721369
Marshall12855235
Houston11661292
Elmore10727217
St. Clair10587250
Limestone10535158
Cullman10323204
Lauderdale10044253
DeKalb9335191
Talladega8797187
Walker7659286
Autauga7456114
Jackson7295117
Blount7233139
Colbert6614142
Coffee6117131
Dale5393117
Russell467742
Chilton4666117
Covington4623125
Franklin447281
Tallapoosa4420157
Escambia425282
Chambers3880125
Dallas3707163
Clarke366462
Marion3413106
Pike326979
Lawrence3211101
Winston293972
Bibb282965
Geneva274283
Marengo259067
Barbour245161
Pickens239662
Butler237672
Hale232378
Fayette225064
Henry206645
Randolph196144
Monroe195041
Cherokee194548
Washington179339
Macon168352
Crenshaw165058
Clay163659
Cleburne159945
Lamar149738
Lowndes144854
Wilcox129831
Bullock126042
Conecuh119530
Coosa116729
Perry109928
Sumter108732
Greene98336
Choctaw63925
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
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Hi: 95° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 87°
Columbus
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Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 87°
Oxford
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77° wxIcon
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Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
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Feels Like: 87°
Thursday will be another very hot and very humid day across Mississippi and Alabama. Many areas will be well above 100 degrees with the heat index, some even as high as 120 degrees in the Delta of Mississippi.
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