[Vision2020] New York Times 11-7-18: Jeff Sessions Is Forced Out as Attorney General as Trump Installs Loyalist

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Wed Nov 7 19:39:26 PST 2018

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
On Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 7:03 AM Tom Hansen <thansen at moscow.com> wrote:

. . . How soon will Robert Mueller submit his report?  Before or after
> Trump fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

I guess the answer is "after?"

Article copied below:


Jeff Sessions Is Forced Out as Attorney General as Trump Installs Loyalist

WASHINGTON — President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on
Wednesday, replacing him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s
complaints about the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election
interference and will now take charge of the inquiry.

Mr. Sessions delivered his resignation letter
to the White House at the request of the president, who tapped Matthew G.
Whitaker, Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff
as acting attorney general, raising questions about the future of the
inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Mr. Whitaker, a former college football tight end and United States
attorney in Iowa, and a onetime Senate candidate in that state, has
previously questioned the scope of the investigation. In a column for CNN
last year, he wrote that Mr. Mueller would be going too far if he examined
the Trump family’s finances. “This would raise serious concerns that the
special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt,” Mr. Whitaker wrote,
echoing the president’s derisive description of the investigation. Mr.
Mueller has subpoenaed
the Trump Organization for documents related to Russia.

Until now, Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, oversaw the
investigation because Mr. Sessions recused himself
in March 2017, citing his active role in Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential

Democrats quickly demanded on Wednesday that Mr. Whitaker also remove
himself from taking charge of the inquiry, citing potential conflicts of
interest, including his criticisms of the Mueller investigation, as well as
his connections to a witness in that investigation, Sam Clovis, a former
Trump campaign aide. In 2014, Mr. Whitaker was the chairman of Mr. Clovis’s
unsuccessful campaign to become Iowa state treasurer.

“Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations
on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its
oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general,” Senator
Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a statement.

Justice Department ethics advisers may be asked to weigh whether Mr.
Whitaker should recuse himself. If he were to agree to do that, Mr.
Rosenstein would continue to oversee the special counsel.

*[Read our profile from September of the acting attorney general, Matthew

Mr. Whitaker had no immediate plans to publicly comment about Mr. Mueller
or to take actions regarding the Russia inquiry, an administration official

“I am committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical
standards that upholds the rule of law and seeks justice for all
Americans,” Mr. Whitaker said on Wednesday in a statement in which he also
called Mr. Sessions “a man of integrity.”

But as acting attorney general, Mr. Whitaker would be in a position to
impede or undermine the investigation or to block Mr. Mueller from
delivering a final report on whether Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers
conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 campaign, and whether the
president tried to cover it up.

Any such step could set off a dramatic clash with the new Democratic
majority in the House. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York,
who will become the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was one of
several Democrats to promise investigations once the party takes control in

“The American people understand that no person is above the law and have
demanded accountability from their government,” Mr. Nadler said. “The
firing of Jeff Sessions will be investigated and people will be held
accountable. This must begin immediately, and if not, then a Democratic
Congress will make this a priority in January.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who could become the
new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that any
interference with the Mueller investigation “would cause a constitutional
crisis and undermine the rule of law.”

But Republicans in Congress appeared less concerned by the president’s
move. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who said in
2017 that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Mr. Trump fired his attorney
general, offered no criticism of the president on Wednesday.

“I look forward to working with President Trump to find a confirmable,
worthy successor so that we can start a new chapter at the Department of
Justice,” Mr. Graham said. He had in recent months begun to ease off his
stance of last year, saying in August that it had become clear that Mr.
Sessions had lost the president’s confidence.

The firing of Mr. Sessions came a day after midterm elections that handed
control of the House to Democrats, dealing a major blow to Mr. Trump for
the final two years of his term. Republicans preserved their hold on the
Senate and increased their majority slightly, making it likelier that Mr.
Trump would be able to confirm a replacement.

But House Democrats have made clear that they plan to use the subpoena
power that will come with their majority to reopen the lower chamber’s own
investigation into the Russia matter.

The abrupt ouster of Mr. Sessions resembled in some ways the decision by
President George W. Bush to oust Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in
2006 the day after a similar electoral defeat in midterm elections. In that
case, Mr. Bush was attempting to mollify his critics. Mr. Trump’s decision
to fire Mr. Sessions appeared likely to inflame his adversaries on Capitol

John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, called Mr. Sessions before
the president’s postelection news conference on Wednesday to tell the
attorney general that Mr. Trump wanted him to step down, the administration
official said. Mr. Trump, who did not speak with Mr. Sessions himself, then
ducked questions about Mr. Sessions’s fate at the news conference.

Mr. Sessions then had his letter, which was undated, delivered to the White
House. “Dear Mr. President, at your request I am submitting my
resignation,” he wrote. He added, “Most importantly, in my time as attorney
general we have restored and upheld the rule of law,” and thanked the

Mr. Trump announced the resignation and Mr. Whitaker’s assignment on
Twitter. “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish
him well!” he wrote
<https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1060256623439110146>. “A
permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”

Though Mr. Trump has said for months that he wished to replace Mr.
Sessions, lawmakers and administration officials believed that firing the
attorney general before the midterm elections would have had negative
consequences for Republicans in tight races. So it came as little surprise
when Mr. Sessions was asked to resign the day after the midterms were over.

The president’s decision ended a partnership that soured almost from the
start of the administration and degenerated into one of the most
acrimonious public standoffs between a commander in chief and a senior
cabinet member in modern American history.

Only weeks after he was confirmed as the United States’ top law enforcement
officer, Mr. Sessions recused himself
from overseeing the Justice Department investigation in March 2017, after
revelations that he had failed to report encounters with Ambassador Sergey
I. Kislyak of Russia during the 2016 campaign.

At the time, Mr. Sessions said there was nothing nefarious about those
meetings, though he acknowledged that he “should have slowed down” and been
more thoughtful in denying any contacts
with Russian officials during his Senate confirmation process. His recusal
was one of his first public acts as attorney general.

Mr. Trump never forgave him. At various points, he called Mr. Sessions “
beleaguered <https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/889467610332528641>,”
“VERY weak
In private, he referred to him derisively as “Mr. Magoo,” after the
befuddled cartoon character.

In an interview with The New York Times
in July of 2017, Mr. Trump first publicly revealed his anger with Mr.
Sessions, kicking off 16 months of public fury toward his attorney general
by saying he would not have hired Mr. Sessions had he known he would hand
off oversight of the Russia inquiry.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?” Mr. Trump said in the
Oval Office interview. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I
would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to
take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”

Mr. Trump also publicly badgered Mr. Sessions to open investigations into
his defeated rival, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats. Critics from both
parties said the president was shredding the traditional independence of
the law enforcement agencies in seeking what appeared to be politically
motivated prosecutions.

For the most part, Mr. Sessions made no public retort. But after the
president chided him in February
for leaving an inquiry into the F.B.I.’s handling of the Russia
investigation to an inspector general rather than conducting his own
review, Mr. Sessions pushed back. “As long as I am the attorney general,”
he said, “I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor.”

When Mr. Trump said in August that Mr. Sessions “never took control of the
Justice Department,” Mr. Sessions fired back
saying in a rare public rebuke that “the Department of Justice will not be
improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Mr. Sessions tried to quit at least twice. In June 2017, shortly after his
recusal, Mr. Trump berated Mr. Sessions during a private meeting in the
Oval Office and accused him of “disloyalty
Mr. Sessions grew emotional and agreed to resign
Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, later said he ran out
of the building to find the attorney general in the parking lot and stop
him from leaving.

The deputy attorney general, now Mr. Rosenstein, would normally be in line
to become the acting attorney general, but Mr. Trump has complained
publicly about Mr. Rosenstein, too.

Installing Mr. Whitaker could clear the way for Mr. Trump to force out Mr.
Mueller. To dismiss a special counsel, the president has to order the
attorney general or, in the case of a recusal, the deputy attorney general,
to carry it out. Mr. Rosenstein has said that he sees no justification to
dismiss Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey
the F.B.I.
director originally overseeing the investigation.

During his new conference on Wednesday, Mr. Trump again insisted that he
had the right to order an end to the investigation. “I could’ve ended it
anytime I wanted,” he said. “I didn’t. There was no collusion. There was no
anything.” But he did not rule it out. “It should end because it’s very bad
for our country,” he said.

Mr. Whitaker’s ascendance to the top of the Justice Department shows how
much loyalty means to Mr. Trump. The president has long regarded Mr.
Whitaker as his eyes and ears inside a department that he considers an
enemy institution.

Mr. Whitaker has been a frequent White House visitor and served as what one
White House aide called a “balm” on the relationship between the president
and the Justice Department.

In pushing out his attorney general, the president cast aside one of his
earliest and strongest supporters.

In February 2016, Mr. Sessions became the first sitting senator to endorse
Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and in the months leading up to the
election, he became one of the candidate’s closest national security
advisers and a key architect of the president’s hard-line immigration

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions has been instrumental is putting that
agenda into practice, leading the assault on protections for young
immigrants, ordering a “zero tolerance” crackdown on migrant families at
the border, and helping to orchestrate changes aimed at severely reducing
legal and illegal immigration.

Working with Stephen Miller, the president’s top domestic policy adviser,
Mr. Sessions helped shape the president’s dark immigration message during
the midterm elections, pushing for new efforts to separate families at the
border, elimination of birthright citizenship, and more aggressive efforts
to counter a caravan of migrants heading toward the United States from
Central America.

He also fought for tougher sentencing for criminals, challenged so-called
sanctuary cities and pursued the MS-13 gang.

But despite arguably being the most effective of Mr. Trump’s cabinet
members on issues that the president deeply cared about, Mr. Sessions never
recovered from Mr. Trump’s anger over his recusal in the Russia

Mr. Sessions, 71, got his start in politics as a United States attorney in
Alabama, but his nomination for a federal judgeship was blocked by the
Senate amid charges of racial insensitivity. He mounted a comeback by
winning election as the state attorney attorney general and then, in 1996,
to the Senate.

On Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 7:03 AM Tom Hansen <thansen at moscow.com> wrote:

. . . How soon will Robert Mueller submit his report?  Before or after
> Trump fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

On Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 7:03 AM Tom Hansen <thansen at moscow.com> wrote:

. . . How soon will Robert Mueller submit his report?  Before or after
> Trump fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions?
> And with the new House of Representatives not being sworn-in until
> January, there seems to be sufficient time for Trump to pack his bags and
> brush up on his Russian.
> 🎶 * Donald and Vladimir sitting in a tree . . . K-I-S-S-I-N-G * 🎵
> This also provides me enough time to accumulate more songs to be played on
> “House of Representatives Swear-in Day” . . . to accompany . . .
> https://youtu.be/83F_fxtzEv0
> https://youtu.be/6h_GChgSv_A
> Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
> "Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
> http://www.MoscowCares.com <http://www.moscowcares.com/>
> Tom Hansen
> Moscow, Idaho
> =======================================================
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>           mailto:Vision2020 at moscow.com
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