US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned at the request of President Trump, following months of tension between the nation’s top lawmaker and the president.
The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said he was resigning Wednesday at the request of President Donald Trump in a move that raises questions over the future of a bombshell probe into the president’s alleged collusion with Russia.
Mr Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker has been appointed acting attorney general, the president announced via Twitter.
The departure creates uncertainty at the Justice Department, but also for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the US election that delivered a Trump White House.
Mr Sessions, 71, had recused himself from the Russia probe, because of his role in the Trump election campaign and the investigation has caused considerable tension between Mr Trump and Mr Sessions, which the president dubbed a “witch hunt”.
In his resignation letter, obtained by several media outlets and posted to Twitter, Mr Sessions makes it clear he was quitting at the president’s request.
“Since the day I was honoured 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,” the letter states.
“I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.”
Mr Sessions was widely expected to step down in the wake of the US midterm elections, which saw the Republican party retain their majority in the Senate, but lose control of the House of Representatives.
Several hours after announcing the new AG via Twitter, Mr Trump was once again condemning the Mueller investigation.
“According to NBC News, Voters Nationwide Disapprove of the so-called Mueller Investigation (46%) more than they Approve (41%). You mean they are finally beginning to understand what a disgusting Witch Hunt, led by 17 Angry Democrats, is all about!” he posted.
During a fiery press conference, which saw Mr Trump brand a CNN reporter an “enemy of the people”, on Thursday the president did not answer questions about the attorney general, saying he was “extremely” satisfied with his cabinet.
Mr Trump has repeatedly called on Mr Sessions to end the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was any cooperation by his campaign with Moscow.
In August he took to Twitter to declare: “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.
“Bob Mueller is totally conflicted,” Mr Trump continued but provided no evidence that the team led by Mr Mueller, a Republican appointed by Republicans, is biased against him.
Mr Sessions cited his role as a senior adviser to the Trump presidential campaign as the reason he would not oversee the probe and instead and appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation.
Mr Rosenstein in turn appointed Mr Mueller, a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An element of Mr Mueller’s investigation includes whether Trump or anyone in the campaign tried to obstruct justice.