Trump firing Sessions is a 'break the glass moment — Richard Blumenthal

Lester Mason
November 9, 2018

Mr Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker, formerly Mr Sessions' chief of staff, as acting attorney general under the US Vacancies Reform Act, which lays out general rules for temporarily filling vacant executive branch positions.

Yet when Sessions got the boot on Wednesday ― his letter said he resigned at the president's request ― Graham offered a different message.

Senate Republicans could confirm a new AG on a simple party-line vote.

Democrats warned against interference in the probe.

Mr Mueller is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, resulting in a series of criminal charges against several Trump associates.

Whitaker, according to sources, is now overseeing everything at the Justice Department, including the Russian Federation investigation - despite calls from Democrats to recuse himself.

In that scenario, Mueller's budget could be reduced "so low that his investigation grinds to nearly a halt", Whitaker said during an interview with CNN in July 2017 before he joined the Justice Department. "I'm concerned Rod Rosenstein will no longer be overseeing the probe".

Would he would fire special counsel Robert Mueller? Mueller's team also has been pressing for an interview with Trump.

Lamar Alexander, Republican senator for Tennessee, also issued a warning from the Republican side, saying that the Senate will not confirm a successor to Sessions who would stop the Russian Federation investigation.

The Justice Department has declined to answer whether ethics officials have been asked to review if Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller probe. He added that it had "been a privilege" to work under Sessions.

Trump said at the news conference that he wanted the Mueller probe to end, calling it "very unfair".

"As the attorney general has repeatedly said, she has not yet made a decision as to what she will do next", Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray said in an email to CNN.

In 2017 he even used Trump's words, warning against Mueller engaging in a "witch hunt".

Whitaker, a former US attorney from Iowa who twice ran unsuccessfully for statewide office and founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists, once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe. However, it would be an immediate priority for Democratic investigations when they officially take control of the House in January. "This is a break-the-glass moment", he said. At this point, the investigation has lasted almost a year and a half.

The attorney general could also cut the budget for the special counsel's office. And he's one step closer to being able to do just that.

"I'm disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons", Trump told reporters in September.

The resignation, in a one-page letter to Trump, came one day after Republicans lost control of the House and was the first of several expected post-midterms Cabinet and White House departures.

"Why is the President making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller's investigation?" Four former Trump campaign officials - including his onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort - are among those who have pleaded guilty.

One reason Sessions endured months of taunting from Trump is that he believed he was protecting the integrity of the Justice Department and was trying to prevent the president from bringing in someone who would politicize it, according to a USA official who has worked with Sessions and frequently talked with him.

How many people will show up remains to be seen.

-With assistance from Steven T. Dennis.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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