US At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions re­signs at Trump's re­quest

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - ---Al Jazeera

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump forced out At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions on Wed­nes­day, less than 24 hours after the Re­pub­li­can party lost con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Ses­sions in­formed Trump of his res­ig­na­tion in a let­ter sent to the pres­i­dent ear­lier in the day. In the let­ter, which was widely shared by US me­dia, Ses­sions said he was re­sign­ing "at your (Trump's) re­quest".

On Twit­ter, Trump thanked Ses­sions for his ser­vice and wished him well. He said Matthew G Whi­taker, Ses­sions's chief of staff, would be­come the act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral un­til a re­place­ment is an­nounced, which the pres­i­dent said would come at a later date. In the res­ig­na­tion let­ter, Ses­sions said he was hon­oured to have worked "to im­ple­ment the law en­force­ment agenda" that formed a cen­tral part of the Trump cam­paign for pres­i­dency.

"We did our part to re­store im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment," he wrote.The for­mer sen­a­tor was a key fig­ure in im­ple­ment­ing Trump's anti-im­mi­gra­tion agenda. He threat­ened sanc­tu­ary cities, which are cities and states that limit co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties, with a with­drawal of fed­eral funds and in­sti­tuted a "zero tol­er­ance" pol­icy for those found cross­ing the border into the US with­out doc­u­ments.

Trump's crit­i­cism of Ses­sions stemmed over Ses­sions's de­ci­sion to re­cuse him­self from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The US pres­i­dent did not hes­i­tate to make those crit­i­cisms pub­lic.

"If all of the Rus­sian med­dling took place dur­ing the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion, right up to Jan­uary 20th, why aren't they the sub­ject of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Why didn't Obama do some­thing about the med­dling? Why aren't Dem crimes un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Ask Jeff Ses­sions!" He wrote on Twit­ter in Fe­bru­ary.

Trump blamed the de­ci­sion for open­ing the door to the ap­point­ment of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, who took over the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion and be­gan ex­am­in­ing whether Trump's hec­tor­ing or Ses­sions's was part of a broader ef­fort to ob­struct jus­tice and stymie the probe.

Mueller is over­seen by Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, who re­ports to Ses­sions. There were re­ports Trump may fire Rosen­stein, a fre­quent critic of the pres­i­dent, ear­lier this year, but last month Trump said he had no plans to get rid of the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral.

US me­dia re­ported on Wed­nes­day that Whi­taker, who has crit­i­cised Mueller in the past, would likely over­see the Rus­sia probe.

Trump was buoyed on Wed­nes­day by vic­to­ries that added to the Re­pub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the US Se­nate, telling re­porters at the White House that the gains out­weighed the Democrats' takeover of the House. He added that he was will­ing to work with Democrats on key pri­or­i­ties but felt any House in­ves­ti­ga­tions of his ad­min­is­tra­tion would hurt prospects for bi­par­ti­san­ship.

Fol­low­ing Ses­sions's res­ig­na­tion, the top Demo­crat on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee said he wants "an­swers im­me­di­ately".

Jerry Nadler is in line to be­come the chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary panel when Democrats take con­trol of the House in Jan­uary. He tweeted that "we will be hold­ing peo­ple ac­count­able". He added that it would be "wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate" if Whi­taker takes on the role of su­per­vis­ing the probe.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Shumer said it is "para­mount" that the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion be pro­tected by Trump's new at­tor­ney gen­eral. He called the tim­ing of Ses­sions's de­par­ture "very sus­pect", adding that it would spark a "con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis" if Trump forced out Ses­sions as a "pre­lude" to end­ing or lim­it­ing Mueller's in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Demo­cratic House leader, Nancy Pelosi, called the fir­ing of Ses­sions "an­other bla­tant at­tempt" by Don­ald Trump to end the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and crit­i­cised his choice of act­ing re­place­ment.

"Given his record of threats to un­der­mine [and] weaken the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Matthew Whi­taker should re­cuse him­self from any in­volve­ment in Mueller's in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Congress must take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to pro­tect the rule of law and in­tegrity of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ses­sions earned Trump's anger by re­cus­ing him­self from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. [Alex Bran­don/AP Photo]

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