On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned from his position, though it appears that he did so after being pressured by President Donald Trump. In a letter to Trump, delivered to John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, Sessions said, “At your request I am submitting my resignation,” making Sessions exit seem more like a firing.
Sessions time as Attorney General has been tumultuous. While he has been a critical figure in advancing Trump’s vision for the country, Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation drew the President’s ire.
As the Mueller investigation continued on, Sessions relationship with the President remained strained. Sessions was often the target of criticism from Trump, who once referred to the Attorney General as “scared stiff and Missing in Action.”
In a moment of defiance last August, Sessions issued a statement, saying, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”
Sessions, according to a report by CNN, received the request for his resignation from Kelly, not Trump.
“Most importantly, in my time as Attorney General we have restored and upheld the rule of law — a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard,” Sessions wrote in his resignation letter. “We have operated with integrity and have lawfully and aggressively advanced the policy agenda of this administration.”
The President has announced Matthew Whitaker to replace Sessions as the acting attorney general.
“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 in a tweet. “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”
Whitaker is anticipated to take charge of the Russia investigation, including over special counsel Robert Mueller. Previously, Whitaker has been critical of the probe and Mueller, leading many Democrats to call on him to recuse himself, just like Sessions had done.
In a tweet, Eric Holder, the former Obama administration Attorney General, stated, “Anyone who attempts to interfere with or obstruct the Mueller inquiry must be held accountable. This is a red line. We are a nation of laws and norms not subject to the self interested actions of one man.”