Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Trump FIRES Jeff Sessions and replaces him as attorney general with ultra-loyalist who could now oversee Mueller probe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned as the country’s chief law enforcement officer.
President Donald Trump canned his attorney general less than two hours after he said he was happy with most of his Cabinet but refused to provide a vote of confidence to his Justice Department head.
Sessions was expected to quit or be fired soon after the election. However, Trump at his news conference declined to say whether he'd be getting the boot now or later.
Then came a tweet, announcing the appointment to acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker.
A letter from Sessions to the president makes clear that he did not vacate the position as the nation's top cop willingly.
Trump said a permanent replacement would be nominated later.  

'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,' he said.
A second tweet said, 'We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.'
Sen. Lindsey Graham had suggested on Election Day that Sessions' days at Justice were numbered.
'I think Jeff will step aside after the midterm and the President will nominate somebody,' he said as he paved the way for an immediate resignation. 'Every president deserves an attorney general they have confidence in. I like Jeff Sessions but this is just not working. So if we hold the Senate, I think you will probably see a new attorney general sometime next year.' 
Within minutes of the firing, Sen. John Cornyn, also on the Judiciary Committee, released a pre-written statement sending Sessions on his merry way.
'Attorney General Sessions has selflessly dedicated more than 40 years to serving the people of Alabama and the nation,' he said in the statement that was obviously premeditated. 'Those who know him understand his commitment to the rule of law, and his deep and abiding concern for our country.' 
The GOP leader wrote, 'I'm proud to call him a friend. I wish Jeff and Mary the best of luck in their next chapter, and I hope everyone will join me in honoring his public service to the country.' 
He mentioned nothing of the Mueller probe or the partisan bickering over Sessions' replacement that sure to ensue. 
Trump had signaled that Sessions' time was up long before Wednesday, and it was only a matter of time before the president fired him.
Still, the departure came as a shock in Washington, where Trump had just preached a message of unity and bipartisanship.
The president had refused to say at his news conference if Sessions had job security. 
'I'd rather answer that at a little bit different time. Were looking at a lot of things,' Trump said. 'I'm very happy with most of my Cabinet. We're looking at different people for different positions.'
Creating a platform for the departure of Sessions and others, Trump said, 'I know it's very common after the midterms. I didn't want to do anything before the midterms, but I will tell you that for the most part, I am extremely happy with my Cabinet.'
President Trump spoke personally with Whitaker about replacing the attorney general in late September, a West Wing aide told last month.
A senior Republican said then that Whitaker was in a 'grooming exercise' to become attorney general, and was expected to replace Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein on an acting basis until his planned resignation evaporated in September.
A farewell message to Rosenstein, drafted for Sessions to issue but later scrapped, revealed that Whitaker would have stepped in.
A Capitol Hill source said Wednesday that Iowa Republican Rep. Steve king, who survived a scare against a Democratic challenger on Tuesday, recommended Whitaker for the job as Sessions' chief of staff.
King, the source said, specifically advised Trump to lay the groundwork for Whitaker's rise to the top job in the DOJ.
Trump parried a question about Whitaker during an October interview on the Fox News Channel.
'I never talk about that but I can tell you Matt Whitaker's a great guy,' he said then.
'I'm not doing anything,' Trump added. 'I want to get the elections over with. We'll see what happens.'
Whitaker, a former Iowa federal prosecutor, was also on a short list to replace White House Counsel Don McGahn two months ago, according to the Axios news website.
A senior Republican congressional aide told in October that Whitaker was put in place to run Sessions' DOJ office 'as a grooming exercise.'
'The feeling there is that he's the heir apparent, that he'll be the next attorney general, unless someone who's bulletproof and has a big name wants the job,' the aide said.

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