US President Donald Trump sits with recently dismissed Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI academy graduation cermony in Quantico, Virginia on December 15, 2017. (Photo: AP)
Washington (People's Daily) - US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is officially out, and Matthew Whitaker, DoJ Chief of Staff, will transition into the department’s top role as acting head effective immediately.
"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...." Trump wrote. "....We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date."
The move has potentially ominous implications for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, given that the new acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, until now Sessions’ chief of staff, has questioned the inquiry’s scope and spoke publicly before joining the Justice Department about ways an attorney general could theoretically stymie the probe.
Congressional Democrats, concerned about protecting Mueller, called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation in its final but potentially explosive stages.
That duty has belonged to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he wants “answers immediately” and “we will hold people accountable.”
The resignation, in a one-page letter to Trump, came one day after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives and was the first of several expected post-midterms Cabinet and White House departures. Though Sessions was an early and prominent campaign backer of Trump, his departure letter lacked effusive praise for the president and made clear the resignation came “at your request.”
(With input from AP)