Embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned from his office Wednesday morning after President Donald Trump requested he do so. Sessions had faced criticism from President Trump after he recused himself from the investigation into the possibility of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Sessions said that he did not think he should lead the investigation since he had been a Trump campaign surrogate. Trump had repeatedly called the Russia investigation a “hoax" and questioned why it was still going on.
Fox News reported that White House chief of staff John Kelly informed Sessions that Trump wanted him to resign.
Trump announced on Twitter that Sessions's chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, would be taking over as acting attorney general until a more permanent replacement could be named. Whitaker is a former U.S. district attorney from Iowa. He was also a starting tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Whitaker's name had been floated in September as a possible replacement for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Whitaker appears likely to shut down or at least limit the Russia investigation. In August 2017, before he was hired as chief of staff for Sessions, Whitaker wrote an op-ed for CNN titled, “Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far," in which he argued that special counsel Robert Mueller had come “dangerously close" to crossing a “red line" by investigating the president's personal finances.
Sessions tendered his resignation at the president's request, but thanked Trump for the opportunity.
Sessions has frequently been the focus of criticism from Trump. In a September interview with Hill.TV, Trump said, “I don't have an attorney general. It's very sad. I'm so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn't see it."
“And then he went through the nomination process and he did very poorly," he continued. “I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him."