ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday he resigned his post at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The announcement follows Trump's oftentimes public haranguing of the country’s top law enforcement official over the special counsel's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible Trump’s campaign collusion with the effort.
Trump blamed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's appointment on Sessions' decision to recuse himself from matters pertaining to the Russia probe, which had poisoned the relationship between Trump and one of his earliest and most ardent supporters.
Sessions said in a letter to Trump he has been "honored to serve as Attorney General and have worked to implement the law enforcement agenda based on the rule of law that formed a central part of your campaign for the Presidency."
"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," he said. "I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice."
Trump was widely expected to fire Sessions following Tuesday's midterm polls, and Sessions' forced resignation caps a more than year-long toxic relationship between the men.
Trump thanked Sessions for his service and wished him well in a Twitter post, saying Sessions' Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker will serve as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is confirmed by the Senate.
It is not immediately clear how Sessions' resignation will affect the investigation, which Trump and his closest aides have repeatedly claimed is a "witch hunt."
But while serving as a CNN commentator prior to taking his post at the Justice Department, Whitaker wrote an August 2017 opinion piece in which he claimed Mueller "has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing."
He was referring to reports that Mueller's team was, at the time, broadening the scope of its work to include possible financial crimes possibly committed by the Trump organization, only some of which he said were "unconnected to the 2016 election."
"This information is deeply concerning to me. It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude that investigating Donald Trump's finances or his family's finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian government or anyone else," he wrote.