President Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The president had repeatedly criticized Jeff Sessions after he recused himself from the Russia investigation dogging the White House.
President Trump tweeted that his top law enforcement official will be temporarily replaced by his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has criticized the Russia inquiry.
He tweeted on November 7: “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!”
In a resignation letter, Jeff Sessions – a former Alabama senator who was an early supporter of Donald Trump – made clear the decision to go was not his own.
He wrote: “Dear Mr. President, at your request I am submitting my resignation.”
“Most importantly as my time as attorney general, we have restored and upheld the rule of law,” he added, while thanking the president.
President Trump has repeatedly pilloried the attorney general since Jeff Sessions stepped aside from the Russia investigation in March 2017, allowing his deputy Rod Rosenstein to lead an inquiry that has dogged the White House.
In July 2017, President Trump told the New York Times: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
The president has at various times belittled Jeff Sessions as “beleaguered”, “VERY weak”, and “DISGRACEFUL”.
According to a White House official, Chief of Staff John Kelly called Jeff Sessions before President Trump’s combative press conference to discuss midterm election results on November 7.
The attorney general’s exit comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to hunt for evidence of potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation – overseen by the DoJ – has resulted in a series of criminal charges against several of Trump associates.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted after the announcement was made: “Clearly, the President has something to hide.”
Chuck Schumer added: “Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general.”