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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: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto18020198
Hinds17192342
Harrison14654214
Rankin11404225
Jackson11146194
Lee9160149
Madison8736173
Jones6934120
Forrest6324126
Lauderdale6212198
Lowndes5623124
Lafayette5295102
Lamar515565
Washington4984125
Bolivar4187111
Oktibbeha413686
Panola390784
Pontotoc383461
Warren3766103
Monroe3746112
Marshall362273
Union361966
Pearl River3578107
Neshoba3528160
Leflore3148110
Lincoln311489
Hancock304263
Sunflower296079
Tate282964
Alcorn276257
Pike275985
Itawamba272665
Scott268055
Yazoo259956
Prentiss257255
Copiah254649
Coahoma253656
Tippah252652
Simpson246072
Leake239367
Marion230774
Covington226173
Grenada225874
Wayne219337
Adams218172
George211041
Winston208971
Newton202748
Attala198265
Tishomingo197861
Chickasaw191546
Jasper185839
Holmes173268
Clay169538
Tallahatchie158835
Stone154727
Clarke151062
Calhoun143122
Smith134226
Yalobusha125435
Walthall116638
Greene115930
Noxubee114726
Montgomery113136
Lawrence109317
Carroll107722
Perry106431
Amite103829
Webster99024
Claiborne90426
Jefferson Davis90231
Tunica89722
Benton87423
Humphreys86225
Kemper81820
Quitman71611
Franklin71517
Choctaw64914
Wilkinson60325
Jefferson57521
Sharkey45917
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 449086

Reported Deaths: 7172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson656061094
Mobile32260595
Madison28795237
Tuscaloosa21859277
Montgomery20388348
Shelby19707139
Baldwin17629217
Lee13482112
Morgan12795154
Etowah12265213
Calhoun11730228
Marshall10543133
Houston9221182
Limestone849485
Cullman8412143
Elmore8379123
Lauderdale8049121
DeKalb7985122
St. Clair7985144
Talladega6637114
Jackson611557
Walker6078185
Colbert5650104
Blount556895
Autauga549967
Coffee473471
Dale418692
Franklin380153
Russell364216
Chilton351379
Covington347986
Escambia343446
Tallapoosa3228111
Dallas3164105
Chambers313775
Clarke311139
Pike269435
Lawrence259759
Marion256667
Winston236443
Bibb226151
Geneva217151
Marengo213332
Pickens203031
Barbour189840
Hale189748
Fayette183534
Butler176660
Cherokee167333
Henry162229
Monroe154221
Randolph149536
Washington144727
Clay131650
Crenshaw127048
Macon124638
Cleburne124128
Lamar122024
Lowndes118637
Wilcox110022
Bullock107429
Perry100819
Conecuh99123
Sumter91228
Greene78624
Coosa66119
Choctaw52424
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