Em­bat­tled A-G Jeff Ses­sions re­signs at Trump’s re­quest

The New Paper - - NEWS -

This could have im­pli­ca­tions for Mueller’s Rus­sia probe

WASH­ING­TON US At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions was forced to re­sign on Wed­nes­day af­ter re­ceiv­ing un­re­lent­ing crit­i­cism from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for re­cus­ing him­self from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s role in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race.

In a step that could have im­pli­ca­tions for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller, Mr Trump re­placed Mr Ses­sions with Mr Matthew Whi­taker, who will be act­ing at­tor­ney-gen­eral. He had been Mr Ses­sions’ chief of staff.

The top Demo­crat in the US Se­nate called on Mr Whi­taker to re­cuse him­self from the probe.

Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a state­ment: “Given his pre­vi­ous com­ments ad­vo­cat­ing de­fund­ing and im­pos­ing lim­i­ta­tions on the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mr Whi­taker should re­cuse him­self from its over­sight for the du­ra­tion of his time as act­ing at­tor­ney-gen­eral.”

In an opin­ion piece for CNN that ap­peared on Aug 6 last year, while he was a com­men­ta­tor for the net­work, Mr Whi­taker, a for­mer US at­tor­ney, said Mr Mueller would be cross­ing a line if he in­ves­ti­gated the Trump fam­ily’s fi­nances.

The piece was ti­tled: Mueller’s In­ves­ti­ga­tion Of Trump Is Go­ing Too Far.

Mr Trump’s per­sonal lawyer Rudy Gi­u­liani told Reuters on Tues­day he as­sumed Mr Ses­sions’ de­par­ture was “not go­ing to af­fect” the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Deputy At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, who is su­per­vis­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion and has also faced crit­i­cism from Mr Trump, was seen by Reuters en­ter­ing the White House on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Mr Trump an­nounced Mr Ses­sions’ de­par­ture on Twit­ter and thanked him for his ser­vice.

Mr Ses­sions said in a let­ter to Mr Trump that he had re­signed at the Pres­i­dent’s re­quest.

Demo­cratic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jer­rold Nadler, ex­pected to chair the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee start­ing in Jan­uary, de­manded an­swers in a tweet about Mr Trump’s rea­sons for fir­ing Mr Ses­sions.

“Why is the Pres­i­dent mak­ing this change and who has au­thor­ity over Spe­cial Coun­sel Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion? We will be hold­ing peo­ple ac­count­able,” Mr Nadler tweeted.

Mr Mueller’s probe, op­er­at­ing un­der the aus­pices of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, has yielded crim­i­nal charges against sev­eral Trump as­so­ciate.

A per­ma­nent re­place­ment for Mr Ses­sions must be con­firmed by the US Se­nate, which Repub­li­cans will con­tinue to con­trol as a re­sult of Tues­day’s midterm elec­tions. – REUTERS

PHOTO: AFP

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with then US At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions last year.

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