Trump fires AG, warns of fightback
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump forced out his attorney general on Wednesday and threatened to fight back if Democrats use their new majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to launch investigations into his administration and finances.
Trump came out swinging a day after his Republicans lost control of the House, and followed through on repeated threats to remove Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions, a 71-year-old former U.S. senator from Alabama, was an early and loyal supporter of Trump but drew his fury when he recused himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 White House campaign.
His departure was the first in what could be a string of high-profile exits as Trump reshapes his team to gird for his own 2020 re-election effort.
Trump named Sessions’s chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general and said he would nominate someone for the job soon.
The move prompted sharp criticism from Democrats, who said Trump was seeking to undermine the Russia probe.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader who could be the next speaker, said in a statement that Sessions’s ouster was a “blatant attempt” to undermine the Russia probe. She urged Whitaker, who now oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller and has argued Mueller’s investigation has gone too far, to recuse himself from any involvement.
During a combative news conference in which he tangled with reporters, Trump trumpeted his role in Republican gains in Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections, and warned of a “warlike posture” in Washington if Democrats investigated him.
Democrats will now head House committees that can probe the president’s tax returns, which he has refused to turn over since he was a candidate; possible business conflicts of interest; and any links between his 2016 campaign and Russia — a matter being investigated by Mueller.