- Matthew G. Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Sessions, will take over as acting attorney general.
- President Donald Trump requested Sessions to resign one day after the midterm elections.
- Sessions was often brutally criticized by Trump, primarily for recusing himself from the Russia probe.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped down from his position on Wednesday after President Donald Trump asked him to resign.
Trump said Matthew G. Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Sessions, will become the acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is appointed at a later date.
“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Sessions’ resignation marks the end of a tumultuous tenure that last almost two years, during which the Republican attorney general was often on the receiving end of harsh criticism from the president and his allies.
Perhaps most notably, Sessions enraged Trump by deciding to recuse himself from the Russia probe, citing inherent conflicts of interest in the situation.
“I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in,” Sessions said.
Trump openly expressed regret at his decision to nominate Sessions.
“The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself,” Trump tweeted. “I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined … and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”
In an interview with Fox News from August, Trump again criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, and for not informing him of his decision prior to the official announcement.
“What kind of man is this?” Trump said.
Sessions responded quickly with a statement.
“While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Sessions said. “I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”
Sessions resignation (or effective firing) comes just one day after the midterm elections. That’s not an accident, as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina suggested to reporters in August.
“That’s an important office in the country and after the election, I think there will be some serious discussions about a new Attorney General.”