Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned Wednesday at President Donald Trump’s request.
The announcement — made by Trump on Twitter — came the day after the midterm elections.
The president has repeatedly criticized Sessions — one of Trump’s biggest supporters during the campaign — particularly for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Sessions’ departure after the midterms was not unexpected.
Trump was asked about Sessions’ future during a lengthy press conference Wednesday afternoon. At the time, he declined to comment on whether Sessions would be leaving the administration.
“I’d rather answer that at a little bit different time,” Trump said, adding that he was “looking at different people for different positions.” He commented that Cabinet-level changes were “very common after the midterms.”
Trump named Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, as acting attorney general. Whitaker is now set to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Whitaker, a U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Iowa from 2003-09 and Sessions’ chief of staff since late 2017, was a conservative legal commentator. He wrote an opinion column for CNN before joining the Justice Department titled “Mueller’s investigation into Trump is going too far.”
Reacting to the news, incoming House Judiciary Chairman Jerold Nadler tweeted that Americans must get answers “immediately” for why Sessions was ousted.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters the timing of the move was “very suspect,” adding that if the move was made to interfere with Mueller’s probe in any way, it would create what he considered a “constitutional crisis.”
If Whitaker is now supervising the Mueller investigation, any final report by the special counsel on his findings will go to Whitaker, who could decline to make it public or transmit it to Congress. But the House intelligence committee could subpoena it and anyone involved in preparing it.