Donald Trump was asked repeatedly about Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions at his press conference this morning and refused to say anything except how “happy” he was with his cabinet—though his frequent mentions that it was “common” to see changes after the midterm elections was a sure sign that Sessions wasn’t long for this White House. As many people predicted, not long meant less than 12 hours after the last polls closed.
Sessions “submitted his resignation” even before Trump rambled on about his happiness, and for the moment at least, his role is being filled by Sessions’ former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker. Once upon a time, Republican senators pretended that firing Sessions would be a step too far for Trump, but the whole purpose of Trump’s morning press conference was to drive home the fact that Republicans who dared cross him, on even the smallest matter, would get “no love” and would be left swinging in the 2020 winds without Trump dropping in for last-minute rescue rallies. But then, senators had already gotten the message, informing Trump that they would drop their mock fury if he would only wait until after the elections. So he did.
At this point almost anything will happen—and is very likely to happen. Whitaker could fire deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but he doesn’t really need to. Since he hasn’t recused himself, he could take direct control of the Russia investigation, fire Robert Mueller, and end that investigation himself. It’s not as if he’s made it a mystery.
Because this article on CNN’s website, titled “Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far,” was written by the same Matthew Whitaker.
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. That goes beyond the scope of the appointment of the special counsel.
Donald Trump has just selected for attorney general someone whose biggest qualification is that he has been at the forefront of attacks on Robert Mueller. At the very least, Whitaker is sure to cripple the Mueller investigation by putting limits in place that would make it pointless. By Whitaker’s reasoning, most of the indictments against Trump associates that have already been filed would go out the window.
The resignation letter — may not be fresh.
It doesn’t take much speculation to figure out what Whitaker will do, because he’s already explained it.
Whitaker: So I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.
It’s been clear for months that Trump intended to fire Sessions, and that Sessions’ departure would be synonymous with an end to the Mueller investigation as it is currently being conducted by the Department of Justice. There is no doubt that Whitaker has already moved to end any further investigation and handcuff Mueller’s team.
If Robert Mueller has prepared for this day by completing a report, or leaving a set of sealed indictments ready to burst forth … now is the time.
This is all going to happen very, very quickly now. Presumably Mueller has planned for this day. Because this is it.
Mark Sumner ·
Fox is reporting that Rod Rosenstein has been called to the White House. It’s unclear if this was a previously scheduled meeting.