I International

Jeff Sessions resigns as Attorney General

Jeff Sessions has resigned from the position of United States Attorney General at the request of President Donald Trump.

Just one day after Trump’s Republican’s lost control of the House of Representatives, his Attorney General has been forced out and replaced with an ally, who stands firmly against investigations into the president’s conduct.

The move to remove Sessions is likely a way of shielding the president from potential investigations that the Democratic House would now be able to instigate.

One of the biggest controversies of the 2016 election was Donald Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, with many commentators speculating that this was likely due to tax evasion, a belief that has been largely backed up by the president’s tax affairs that are in the public domain.

The House being controlled by the Democrats means that the likelihood of these tax practices and other sensitive material coming to light is much higher, as the Democrats will control the chairmanship of committees.

These committees largely have the power to request material, but Session’s resignation is an indication that Trump will do everything to prevent this from happenings.

Mathew Whittaker, Jeff Sessions former chief of staff, has taken the position of acting AG and is known for being opposed to the Mueller investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Trump’s decision to install Whittaker as the acting AG, instead of appointing deputy AG in the position, suggests a clear decision to pick Whittaker for political reasons.

These reasons are certainly around the investigations into Donald Trump, given Whittaker’s staunch opposition to Mueller’s investigation. Speaking to the New York Times in recent months, Whittaker stated that by investigating Trump’s financial matters, Mueller would be conducting a witch-hunt, further stating that such actions would be outside the scope of the Mueller investigation during an op-ed some months later.

This is significant given that the change in House leadership will make an investigation into Donald Trump’s financial records significantly more likely.

More significantly, it is likely that should it come to light that Mueller is indeed investigation irregularities (lawbreaking) in Donald Trump’s financial history, Whittaker is likely to shut down the investigation.

Donald Trump has the power to end the Mueller investigation himself, however, given that he has already been accused of obstruction of justice for firing James Comey, he is reluctant to remove the Special Counsel investigation himself.

This is likely where Whittaker comes in – or any full-time appointment thereafter. Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the investigation, therefore was not able to interfere in its process, nor could he shut down the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also signalled that he would allow the investigation to take place, therefore clearly showing that Whittaker’s appointment was highly motivated by a wish to protect Trump from the ongoing investigation.

This speculation is given more weight given the fact that Donald Trump, in a speech yesterday, signalled that if the newly Democratic House of Representatives attempted to investigate him, he would fight back, promising to adopt a ‘warlike posture’ if they investigate him.

The removal of Sessions from the position is a way of helping him do as such.

To be clear, the resignation of Sessions was indeed a removal, with Sessions stating in his resignation letter that he was leaving at the request of the president.

This resignation has been likened to the Saturday Night Massacre during the Nixon-Watergate investigation, whereby Nixon fired his Attorney General and Deputy AG for refusing to shut down a special investigation into his role in the cover-up. He fired the nations top two law enforcement officers, before appointing an ally who shut down the investigation.

This led to the House moving to impeach the president before he resigned as it became clear that he would lose an impeachment vote in the Senate.

Although it is unknown whether Whittaker, or whoever is permanently appointed, will carry out the same move is yet to be seen, but all the signs indicate that Donald Trump wants to insulate himself from further investigations now that he has lost the power to prevent such investigations in the house.

Echoing the words of both the president and his now former Attorney General, if you have nothing to hide, let them investigate.