⏩ Trump pushes Ses­sions out as at­tor­ney general.

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — At­tor­ney General Jeff Ses­sions was pushed out Wed­nes­day as the coun­try’s chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer after en­dur­ing more than a year of blis­ter­ing and per­sonal at­tacks from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump over his re­cusal from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Trump an­nounced in a tweet that he was nam­ing Ses­sions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whi­taker, a for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney from Iowa, as act­ing at­tor­ney general. Whi­taker has crit­i­cized spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into po­ten­tial co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the pres­i­dent’s Repub­li­can cam­paign and Rus­sia.

Ses­sions, in a one-page let­ter to Trump, said he was re­sign­ing “at your re­quest.” The res­ig­na­tion was the cul­mi­na­tion of a toxic re­la­tion­ship that frayed just weeks into Ses­sions’ tu­mul­tuous ten­ure, when he stepped aside from the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Trump blamed the de­ci­sion to re­cuse for the ap­point­ment of Mueller, who took over the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion and be­gan ex­am­in­ing whether Trump’s hec­tor­ing of Ses­sions was part of a broader ef­fort to stymie the probe.

Trump had re­peat­edly been talked out of fir­ing Ses­sions un­til after the midterms but told con­fi­dants in re­cent weeks that he wanted Ses­sions out as soon as pos­si­ble after the elec­tions, ac­cord­ing to a Repub­li­can close to the White House who was not au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­cuss pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.

White House chief of staff John Kelly called Ses­sions be­fore the pres­i­dent’s news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day and asked for his res­ig­na­tion. Ses­sions’ un­dated res­ig­na­tion let­ter was then sent to the White House.

Asked whether Whi­taker would as­sume con­trol over Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Jus­tice De­part­ment spokes­woman Sarah Flores said Whi­taker would be “in charge of all mat­ters un­der the purview of the De­part­ment of Jus­tice.” The Jus­tice De­part­ment did not an­nounce a de­par­ture for Deputy At­tor­ney General Rod Rosen­stein, who ap­pointed Mueller and has closely over­seen his work.

Whi­taker once opined about a sce­nario in which Trump could fire Ses­sions and then ap­point an act­ing at­tor­ney general who could sti­fle the fund­ing of Mueller’s probe. In that sce­nario, Mueller’s bud­get could be re­duced “so low that his in­ves­ti­ga­tion grinds to al­most a halt,” Whi­taker said dur­ing a July 2017 in­ter­view with CNN.

Whi­taker, an Iowa na­tive, pre­vi­ously served as U.S. at­tor­ney for the South­ern District of Iowa from 2004 un­til 2009. He man­aged a cou­ple of dozen at­tor­neys who pros­e­cute fed­eral crimes and rep­re­sent the govern­ment in civil mat­ters in half of Iowa.

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