Trump Fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions

This combination of file pictures created on August 23, 2018 shows US President Donald Trump (L) in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on August 23, 2018 and a photo taken on July 18, 2018 of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, DC. Sessions,  MANDEL NGAN, Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired by Donald Trump Wednesday after enduring more than a year of bitter criticism from the president over his decision to step aside from the Russia investigation that has dogged the White House.

Sessions became the first casualty of a cabinet shakeup that had been expected from Trump following the midterm elections on Tuesday.

“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions said in the first line of a letter released by the Department of Justice.

The departure of Sessions, who was the first US senator to back Trump’s presidential run in 2016, was long expected and came one day after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives but boosted their Senate majority.

Trump had repeatedly assailed him publicly for not taking a tougher approach to illegal immigrants¬†and accused him of protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians – an investigation that is also examining whether the president himself obstructed justice.

Trump announced via Twitter that Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker will be acting attorney general.

“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”

Sessions’ firing immediately threw into question whether the 18-month-old Mueller probe will be able to continue unimpeded.

To Trump’s great anger, on March 2, 2017, Sessions recused himself from involvement in and oversight of the nascent Russia collusion investigation because of his own Russian contacts during the 2016 campaign.

Instead, he gave Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein the authority to oversee the probe independently.

‘Could fire everybody’

A replacement for Mueller though would have no such constraints, potentially allowing Trump to hamstring the investigators.

Earlier Wednesday Trump denied he would shut down Mueller’s team, but still labelled the investigation an illegal “witch hunt” that had spent “millions” of dollars.

“I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it because politically I don’t like stopping it,” Trump told a White House news conference.

“I am not concerned about anything with the Russian investigation, because it is a hoax,” he said. “There’s no collusion.”

With the midterms over, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is believed to be preparing fresh indictments against Trump campaign figures, possibly including his son Donald Trump Jr. and a former campaign consultant Roger Stone, and could press for the president himself to answer questions.

But there has also been speculation Trump could try to kill or suppress the 18 month-old probe, pressing his view that Mueller leads a team staffed by Democrats operating under an illegal mandate.

Trump Urges US Attorney General To End Russia Probe

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on August 1, 2018 shows US President Donald Trump(L) and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, DC. NICHOLAS KAMM, SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump called Wednesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections, calling it “a disgrace to the USA.”

The president’s latest tweet on the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller came on the second day of a trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on unrelated bank and tax fraud charges.

“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump said, calling Mueller’s probe “a disgrace to USA.”

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U.S. Attorney General, Sessions To Testify In Public Hearing

Trump's Attorney General Under 'Fire' Over Russia
Jeff Sessions

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in a public hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the committee chairman said in a statement.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Sessions requested the open setting because “he believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him.”

Sessions’ interactions with Russian officials during U.S. President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign have come under scrutiny by the committee and federal investigators.

Trump convened a meeting of his cabinet on Monday but neither the president nor Sessions alluded to the upcoming testimony.

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Trump used the occasion to highlight the achievements of his administration and to decry the opposition of Senate Democrats, whom he characterised as “obstructionist.”

President Trump Defends ‘Under-Fire’ Jeff Sessions

President Donald Trump Defends 'Under-Fire' Jeff SessionsAs pressure mounts on the U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions to resign, President Donald Trump has defended him, saying he is “an honest man”.

Mr Sessions is under fire for having denied at his confirmation hearing that he had contact with Russian officials.

President Trump, however, said Mr Sessions “could have stated his response more accurately but it was clearly not intentional”, and accused democrats of a “witch hunt”.

Mr Sessions also rescued himself from an FBI probe into alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

He said he had spoken with the Russian Ambassador as a U.S. Senator and not as Mr Trump’s “surrogate”.

Meanwhile, the democrats maintained their attacks on Mr Sessions, saying his explanation regarding his contacts with the Russian Ambassador in 2016 were “simply not credible”.

Trump’s Attorney General Under ‘Fire’ Over Russia

Trump's Attorney General Under 'Fire' Over RussiaThe United States government has confirmed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, met with Russia’s ambassador in 2016.

At his January confirmation hearing, Mr Sessions, a senator at the time, said he had no contracts with the Russians during the campaign, stressing that he never met any Russian official to discuss campaign issues.

The democrats, have however accused him of lying under oath, saying he must resign.

They have also called on him to step aside from the FBI investigation which he oversees as Attorney General such as the alleged Russian interference in the U.S election.

Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, allegedly regarding sanctions against Moscow.