World

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

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

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