“NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW”
by Sharon Rondeau
Atty. Matthew G. Whitaker, who has been serving as Sessions’s chief of staff, will now lead the Justice Department, according to Trump.
At a lengthy presser early Wednesday afternoon, Trump was asked if he planned to replace his attorney general and/or other cabinet members now that the midterm elections are over, to which Trump responded that he was generally pleased with his cabinet members’ performance. However, it was well-known that Sessions infuriated Trump when he recused himself from all “Russia” matters early last year because of his involvement in Trump’s presidential campaign.
With Sessions’s then-recusal, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been overseeing the “Russia collusion” investigation carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller since May of last year.
Fox has reported that Trump “requested” Sessions’s resignation.
Trump had often berated Sessions on Twitter during the ongoing Mueller investigation seeking to learn whether or not anyone in his campaign “colluded” with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election.
It was widely believed that Sessions would resign at some point after the midterm elections. Whether or not Rosenstein will remain in his post, given New York Times allegations that he had plotted against Trump last year, is an open question.
Also at issue is 20 pages of documentation associated with surveillance warrants obtained on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page between October 2016 and September 2017. In September, Trump had first asked the intelligence community to declassify the documents but then decided to have the Justice Department’s inspector general review them first.
The 20 pages reportedly contain “exculpatory evidence” as to any “collusion” claims involving the Trump campaign.
Rosenstein reportedly signed the fourth and final warrant application.
By 3:30 p.m. EST, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called upon Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation due to Whitaker’s earlier criticism of it as well as former FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to recommend Hillary Clinton for criminal prosecution in July 2016.
“No one is above the law,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
The U.S. Constitution allows for the president to make interim cabinet appointments, but permanent ones must be approved by the full Senate.