President Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned. Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, will become acting attorney general. Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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
“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote to the president Wednesday. He touted the department’s initiatives, saying that the Justice Department had taken on “transnational gangs that are bringing violence and death across our borders and protected national security” and noted efforts on immigration enforcement and the opioid epidemic.
Before he joined to the Justice Department, Whitaker wrote an opinion piece for CNN in August 2017 criticizing the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Whitaker argued that Mueller could not investigate the Trump family’s finances.
“It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude that investigating Donald Trump’s finances or his family’s finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian government or anyone else. That goes beyond the scope of the appointment of the special counsel,” Whitaker wrote.
“Any investigation into President Trump’s finances or the finances of his family would require Mueller to return to Rod Rosenstein for additional authority under Mueller’s appointment as special counsel,” Whitaker also wrote in the CNN piece in 2017.
Earlier Wednesday at the president’s press conference, CBS News’ Major Garrett had asked about potential changes in his Cabinet, in particular, whether Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would remain with the administration.
The president didn’t offer a direct answer, saying only, “We’re looking at different people for different positions.” He added that he is mostly “extremely happy” with his Cabinet.
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