US President Donald Trump has requested - and received - the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Department of Justice will be led by his chief of staff Matthew Whitaker until a permanent replacement is nominated.
“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, after announcing the appointment of Whitaker.
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....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
There is a potential problem with Whitaker’s appointment over the head of the current deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who has been in charge of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of Trump-Russia “collusion” during the 2016 presidential election. Rosenstein was confirmed to his post by the Senate, whereas Whitaker was not.
Also, Whitaker would be taking over from Rosenstein the oversight of the Mueller investigation.
“The Acting Attorney General is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice,” DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told reporters on Wednesday.
The sacking of Sessions and the appointment of Whitaker have alarmed Democrats, who are concerned that Trump is making moves to shut down the Mueller probe. Prior to becoming Sessions’ chief of staff in September 2017, Whitaker worked as a legal commentator for CNN, and at one point argued that Mueller’s investigation was becoming a “witch hunt.”'
Read more: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns from DOJ on Trump’s request