AG Ses­sions out; res­ig­na­tion was re­quested by WH

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - REUTERS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Wed­nes­day forced At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions out of of­fice a day af­ter mid-term elec­tions, and vowed to fight if the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ new Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity launches probes into his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ses­sions — an early Trump sup­porter who ran afoul of the pres­i­dent by re­cus­ing him­self from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 cam­paign for the White House — said in a let­ter to Trump that he was sub­mit­ting his res­ig­na­tion “at your re­quest.”

The 71-year-old for­mer US se­na­tor was in­formed on Wed­nes­day morn­ing by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in a phone call that it was time to go, ac­cord­ing to an aide.

Ses­sions’ 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. The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent named Ses­sions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whi­taker, as act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral and said he would nom­i­nate some­one per­ma­nent for the job soon.

Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein was vis­it­ing the White House on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon for what was de­scribed by an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial as a reg­u­larly sched­uled meet­ing.

Nancy Pelosi, the House Demo­cratic leader who could be the next speaker, called Ses­sions’ ouster a “bla­tant at­tempt” to un­der­mine the Rus­sia probe and urged Whi­taker to re­cuse him­self from any in­volve­ment in a state­ment posted to Twit­ter.

Dur­ing an of­ten com­bat­ive news con­fer­ence with re­porters, Trump high­lighted his role in Repub­li­can gains in Tues­day’s midterm con­gres­sional and gu­ber­na­to­rial 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 US Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller.

Mueller is over­seen by Rosen­stein, who re­ports to Ses­sions.

Trump said he could fire Mueller if he wanted but was hes­i­tant to take that step. “I could fire ev­ery­body right now, but I don’t want to stop it, be­cause po­lit­i­cally I don’t like stop­ping it,” he said.

Moscow de­nies med­dling. Trump, call­ing the Mueller probe a witch hunt, has re­peat­edly said there was no col­lu­sion.

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.

I could fire ev­ery­body right now, but I don’t want to stop it, be­cause po­lit­i­cally I don’t like stop­ping it.” US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump

“They can play that game, but we can play it bet­ter,” Trump said of the pos­si­bil­ity of Demo­cratic in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “All you’re go­ing to do is end up in back and forth and back and forth, and two years is go­ing to go up and we won’t have done a thing.”

The di­vided power in Congress com­bined with Trump’s ex­pan­sive view of ex­ec­u­tive power could her­ald even deeper po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion and leg­isla­tive grid­lock in Wash­ing­ton.

There may be some room, how­ever, for Trump and Democrats to work to­gether on is­sues with bi­par­ti­san sup­port such as a pack­age to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture, pro­tec­tions against pre­scrip­tion drug price in­creases and in the push to re­bal­ance trade with China.

“It re­ally could be a beau­ti­ful bi­par­ti­san sit­u­a­tion,” Trump said.

He said Pelosi had ex­pressed to him in a phone call a de­sire to work to­gether. With Democrats mulling whether to stick with Pelosi, who was speaker when the party last con­trolled the House, or go in a new di­rec­tion, Trump wrote in a tweet ear­lier that she de­serves to be cho­sen for the po­si­tion.

Pelosi, at a Capi­tol Hill news con­fer­ence be­fore news of Ses­sions’ fir­ing, said Democrats would be will­ing to work with Trump where pos­si­ble. But she added, “We have a con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to have over­sight.”

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