Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned his post on Wednesday at the request of the president, according to The New York Times, closing out a relationship that was tenuous from the beginning.
> It came just a day after midterm elections in which Democrats captured control of the House, but Republican success in holding onto the Senate and building their slim majority may make it easier for the president to confirm a successor.
> “Dear Mr. President, at your request I am submitting my resignation,” Mr. Sessions said in his letter. He added, “Most importantly as my time as attorney general, we have restored and upheld the rule of law,” and thanked the president.
> Matthew Whitaker, Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, will take over as acting attorney general, Mr. Trump said in a tweet announcing the shake-up.
President Donald Trump has indicated for months that he wanted to replace Sessions, but doing so prior to the midterm elections was deemed dangerous for Republicans running tight races.
Sessions’ dismissal post-election comes as little surprise.
In the past, Trump has railed against his attorney general for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation:
> “He took the job and then he said, ‘I’m going to recuse myself.’ I said, ‘What kind of a man is this?’” Mr. Trump said this year in a Fox News interview. “I wanted to stay uninvolved. But when everybody sees what’s going on in the Justice Department — I always put ‘justice’ now with quotes.”
Forcing out Sessions could have serious consequences for special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation, The Times noted.
> The deputy attorney general, now Mr. Rosenstein, would normally be in line to become the acting attorney general, but Mr. Trump has complained publicly about Mr. Rosenstein, too. Since Mr. Sessions is recused from all election-related matters, Mr. Rosenstein oversees the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia.
> Such a move might clear the way for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller. To dismiss a special counsel, the president has to order the attorney general or, in the case of a recusal, the deputy attorney general to carry it out. Mr. Rosenstein has said that he sees no justification to dismiss Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump has already fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director originally overseeing the investigation.