President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday after a yearlong public shaming campaign that raised questions about whether the president improperly interfered with the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump, who requested Sessions’ resignation, named Matthew Whitaker to serve as interim attorney general. Whitaker was Sessions’ chief of staff and had been considered for a variety of jobs in the Trump administration, including the No. 2 post at Justice or as White House counsel.
In his new role, Whitaker also will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, prompting fears among Democratic lawmakers that Trump was seeking to derail the inquiry as it nears an end.
“Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as attorney general of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Justice every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions said in a seven-paragraph letter. “I have done so to the best of my ability to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Mueller’s investigation until Whitaker’s appointment, was at the White House on Wednesday afternoon for a meeting, though he remained in his job. He was among those in an entourage of Justice leaders who accompanied Sessions as he exited the department for the last time Wednesday night. (Read more from “Trump Fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions” HERE)