By James Fite

After more than a year of open criticism from Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has submitted his resignation – apparently at the request of the president. The very day after the 2018 midterm elections, before even all the votes have been counted, Sessions submitted his letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

In September, President Trump summed up his feelings and the year-long lambasting of Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, saying: “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.” Well, now he does. With Sessions out, the president wasted no time in announcing Matthew G. Whitaker the temporary replacement:

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

Fall from Grace

As if he hadn’t painted a bright enough target on his back…

While Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was the first to support candidate Donald Trump for the presidency, it did not prove to be the beginning of a great friendship. When accusations cropped up that Trump – or someone in his campaign – conspired with the Russians to break democracy, Sessions was quick to recuse himself in the matter.

Robert Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel and the investigation that has dragged on ever since was possible because AG Sessions refused to lead the Justice Department in all things Russia. But his determination not to pick a side stopped there. As time went on and no evidence of Trump’s guilt appeared, rampant corruption throughout the FBI and DOJ did come to light. As if he hadn’t painted a bright enough target on his back, Sessions defended the agency and the department and defied the president at each turn.

Robert Mueller

Is It Mueller Time?

Some speculate that the replacement of Sessions is the harbinger of doom for Robert Mueller and his investigation, which might be wrapping up soon anyway. It might seem an odd first move in that direction, as the president has refused to act against Mueller directly and passed up what many would consider a great excuse to fire Rod Rosenstein – the man who actually appointed Mueller.

However, while Rosenstein hasn’t been fired, he has been passed up for the promotion. Typically, the Deputy Attorney General would take the reins until a permanent replacement is found. Rather than move Rosenstein up, however, Trump tapped the former AG’s chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker. Now, acting Attorney General Whitaker, who has openly denounced Mueller’s investigation as a witch hunt, will likely be taking control of it.

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