Jeff Sessions, once one of President Trump’s most loyal and trusted advisers before infuriating Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation, has resigned as attorney general at the request of the president.
“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in a Wednesday letter to Trump.
The president tweeted that Matthew Whitaker, chief of staff to Sessions, will become the acting attorney general. Whitaker, according to sources, is now overseeing everything at the Justice Department, including the Russia investigation — despite calls from Democrats to recuse himself.
“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,” he said.
Trump added: “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”
Sources told Fox News that Trump did not call Sessions, but rather White House Chief of Staff John Kelly informed him of the president’s request that he resign. Sessions is expected to leave the Justice Department by the end of the day, and Whitaker is expected to take over immediately.
In his resignation letter, Sessions said he was “honored to serve” as attorney general and said his Justice Department “restored and upheld the rule of law – a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard.”
Sessions’ departure from the Justice Department was not unexpected, as the president has signaled that there would be changes to his administration after the midterms. But no one faced more rumors of an imminent dismissal than Sessions.
For more than a year, Trump has repeatedly lambasted Sessions over his recusal, saying he wouldn’t have installed him as the country’s top law enforcement officer had he known his attorney general would recuse himself from the Russia probe.
In September, Trump said of his strained relationship with Sessions, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.”
In March 2017, shortly after taking office, Sessions removed himself from the Russia investigation, citing his involvement as a high-profile surrogate and adviser to Trump’s campaign.