FLASH: U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS HAS RESIGNED
Just one day after Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate, President Trump revealed in a tweet that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned. Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions' chief of staff, will briefly take his place as the acting Attorney General. Sessions said in a letter to Trump that he is resigning at the president's request.
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....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
....We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
Meanwhile, the White House said that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein will remain in his role. This is important because Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, was reportedly on the cusp of resigning back in September after a NYT story which alleged that Rosenstein had tried to corral members of Trump's cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, even reportedly suggesting that senior officials surreptitiously record their conversations with Trump. Immediately after Trump announced Sessions' resignation, Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said in a statement of his own that protecting the Mueller probe would be paramount. Since Whitaker hasn't recused himself from the probe, he will presumably now become the most senior DOJ official tasked with overseeing Mueller, whose investigation is said to be winding down after a handful of departures from his team of prosecutors. This could be a problem for the veteran prosecutor, as Whitaker has said publicly that he believes the Mueller probe was violating the law by looking into Trump's finances.
Speculation has been mounting for months that Trump would fire Sessions - whom Trump has publicly criticized in interviews and tweets over Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Mueller probe. Many believe South Carolina Lindsey Graham will be tapped to replace Sessions, speculation that has only intensified following Nikki Haley's decision to resign as UN Ambassador, which some believe she did to set herself up to succeed Graham (Haley previously served as governor of South Carolina) should he be tapped for Trump's cabinet.