How will Jeff Sessions' ouster affect the Mueller probe?

Elias Hubbard
November 9, 2018

The forced resignation of beleaguered US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday (Nov 7) has cast doubts over the fate of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Russian Federation had interfered in the 2016 presidential election, even as Democrats rallied to protect the probe.

Whitaker was hired as a CNN legal commentator previous year for several months, before leaving the role in September 2017 to head to the Justice Department as chief of staff to now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Through his CNN role, where he was deeply critical of the Mueller probe, Whitaker got to know Trump, who saw him on TV and later met in person. Whitaker criticized both aspects past year, and as he is now taking over oversight of the probe, he could try to strangle it, or even rescind Mueller's appointment.

Mr Trump announced in a tweet that Mr Sessions would be temporarily replaced by his chief of staff.

Congressional Democrats, concerned about protecting Mueller, called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation in its final but potentially explosive stages. "This is a break-the-glass moment", he said.

He also said the line of succession within the Justice Department does not include the chief of staff and the fact that someone in that position would be made acting attorney general is "very odd". If Mr Mueller files a report detailing his conclusions, the new acting attorney general could keep the document from ever becoming public.

But the relationship was irreparably damaged in March 2017 when Sessions, acknowledging previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador and citing his work as a campaign aide, recused himself from the Russia investigation.

He is a longtime friend of Trump and endorsed him after dropping out of the 2016 presidential campaign. "And I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice".

"Interference with the special counsel's investigation would cause a constitutional crisis and undermine the rule of law". He's won guilty pleas and agreements to cooperate from Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Sessions, 71, has a long political history in Alabama.

The ouster of Sessions ended a partnership that soured nearly from the start of the administration and degenerated into one of the most acrimonious public standoffs between a commander-in-chief and a senior Cabinet member in modern U.S. history.

Marc Lotter, former spokesman for Vice President Pence, former special assistant to President Trump.

-With assistance from Steven T. Dennis.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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