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: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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