Jeff Sessions is out as attorney general, report CNN and the AP. White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly asked him to resign Wednesday, and Sessions' resignation letter was subsequently delivered to the White House. The speed of the move, coming so soon after polls closed, "suggested how eager Mr. Trump was for Mr. Sessions to depart," observes the Wall Street Journal. "At your request, I am submitting my resignation," Sessions wrote in a letter addressed to the president, which you can read here. "Since the day I was honored 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. I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice." More:
- "We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well," Trump announced on Twitter, adding, "We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date."
- USA Today asks and answers the question, "Who Is Matthew Whitaker?" describing him as "a former football player in Iowa who rose there to become a federal prosecutor" and Sessions' chief of staff since October 2017. He wrote a CNN column in August of that year on the Mueller investigation that's now getting fresh scrutiny. In it, he wrote, "The President is absolutely correct. Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing."
- Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who is poised to helm the House Judiciary Committee, reacted by saying "it would be wholly inappropriate for Mr. Whitaker to supervise the special counsel investigation given his documented history of opposition to it."
- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is currently overseeing Mueller, and Slate explains Whitaker will become Rosenstein's boss. He could shift that oversight to himself, "though given that Sessions’ potential post-midterms departure has been widely discussed, it’s possible that Mueller has already wrapped up the bulk of his work," writes Ben Mathis-Lilley.
- CNN's take: "Whitaker is expected to take charge of the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein."
- At Hot Air, Allahpundit observes that Trump's "Sessions problem" effectively disappears with the GOP's strengthened hold on the Senate in terms of his ability to confirm a successor. "Of course, Democrats have new leverage after last night too. Jeff Sessions's testimony before the House next year will be amazing. And if Whitaker does ride herd on Mueller, don't be surprised if they move to impeach him. Impeachment will fail in the Senate but the point for Dems wouldn't be to remove him, just to delegitimize him and his oversight of the Russiagate probe."
- At the New Republic, Matt Ford offers a parting remembrance for Sessions, and it's not a kind one. "His greatest policy triumph amounted to systemic child abuse," Ford writes.
(Trump hedged when asked about Sessions earlier Wednesday