At the request of President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned, effective immediately.
The President tweeted that Sessions will be replaced by Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general. A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date, the president said.
Sessions angered Trump by recusing himself from control of the investigation over whether Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, has been overseeing the Russia investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. However, the Justice Department said Whitaker will take over from Rosenstein, according to Politico.
Whitaker has reportedly said that a Session’s replacement could reduce Mueller’s budget so low that the investigation would grind to a halt, according to The Washington Post.
WHY THIS MATTERS
For one, Trump’s request was not totally unexpected, but was made the day after the midterm elections. Democrats have gained control of the House and they are expected to make demands for probes into the president’s finances and tax returns.
On healthcare, Sessions opinion came to bear in a GOP-led lawsuit in Texas opposing the Affordable Care Act. Sessions said he would not defend the constitutionality of the ACA mandate for individuals to maintain health insurance coverage. The mandate was one of the core provisions of the law that was overturned in the budget bill. It goes into effect in 2019.
In July, Sessions announced Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge to prevent opioid-related deaths.
ON THE RECORD
Sessions wrote in his resignation, “Most importantly, in my time as Attorney General we have restored and upheld the rule of law — a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard. We have operated with integrity and have lawfully and aggressively advanced the policy agenda of this administration.”
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