US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has resigned his appointment in what appears a forced move.
His resignation is coming after over a year of sustained blistering and personal attacks by President Donald Trump.
Sessions’ one page resignation letter is coming just a day after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, signaling several expected post-midterms Cabinet and White House departures.
President Trump has meanwhile approved the appointment of Matthew Whitaker, as interim replacement for Sessions.
Sessions, an early and prominent campaign backer of Trump, said in the letter that the resignation came “at your request.”
“Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as attorney general of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Justice every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions wrote.
The departure was the culmination of a toxic relationship that frayed just weeks into Sessions’ tenure, when he stepped aside from the Russia investigation because of his campaign advocacy and following the revelation that he had met twice in 2016 with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Trump blamed the recusal for the appointment of Mueller, who took over the Russia investigation two months later and began examining whether Trump’s hectoring of Sessions was part of a broader effort to obstruct the probe.
The investigation has so far produced 32 criminal charges and guilty pleas from four former Trump aides. But the work is not done and critical decisions await that could shape the remainder of Trump’s presidency.
Reports say Trump had repeatedly been talked out of firing Sessions until after the midterms, but reportedly told confidants in recent weeks that he wanted Sessions out as soon as possible after the elections.
The president deflected questions about Sessions’ expected departure at a White House news conference Wednesday, which set him against a CNN reporter.
The relationship between Trump and Sessions was irreparably damaged in March 2017 when Sessions, acknowledging previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador and citing his work as a campaign aide, recused himself from the Russia investigation.
President Trump repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse himself.
In piercing attacks, Trump called Sessions weak and beleaguered, complained that he wasn’t more aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and called it “disgraceful” that Sessions wasn’t more serious in scrutinizing the origins of the Russia investigation for possible law enforcement bias — even though the attorney general did ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to examine those claims.
However, Sessions endured most of the name-calling in silence, though he did issue two public statements defending the department, including one in which he said he would serve “with integrity and honor” for as long as he was in the job.
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