End of the Session for Jeff Sessions


Peter Danaher, Staff Writer

On November 7, 2018, Matthew Whitaker was appointed as the U.S. Attorney General. He was chosen by President Trump to be the replacement for Jeff Sessions who had recently been forced to resign (Wikipedia). A lot of controversy has stemmed from his appointment. Many have been critical of the President for making this decision, questioning his motives for firing Sessions and why he chose Whitaker as the replacement. Most of this controversy revolves around the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Jeff Sessions was Donald Trump’s original appointee for attorney general (NY Times). He was chosen for his tough stance on immigration and for his loyalty toward Donald Trump (CNN). Sessions and Trump started off with a good relationship, but over time it became strained. When Sessions recused himself from the investigation on possible collusion between Trump and Russia in the 2016 election, it caused a split between them. This happened in early March of 2018 (NY Times). Sessions did this because he knew that his biases favored Donald Trump, so they would likely affect the investigation; however, Trump did not like this and he wanted someone loyal to him maintaining control over the inquiry. Despite their disagreements on the investigation, Trump still kept Sessions around. However, Trump made his disdain for Sessions obvious. One example of this was when he said, “I don’t have an attorney general” during an interview with Hill T.V. This frustration built up over time and eventually Sessions had to be fired.

On November 7th, 2018, Jeff Sessions was forced to resign. He was replaced by Matthew Whitaker. Trump claims to have chosen Whitaker impartially, but some have speculated that it was due to the previous comments he had made about the Russia investigation. For example, Senator Chuck Schumer said the following, “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.” (NY Times). Others have also pointed out inconsistencies in what Trump has said about Matthew Whitaker. Donald Trump claims that he does not personally know Whitaker, but in reality, Trump has had several meetings with Whitaker throughout his Presidency and they knew each other quite well. (ABC Actions News).

The main criticism about Whitaker’s appointment has come from the fact that Donald Trump appointed him without getting approval from the Senate. The Constitution says that every cabinet member that is chosen by the President first has to be approved by Congress (Constitution Center). This unconstitutional action has led many to condemn Trump.

Some have viewed Donald Trump’s actions as obstruction of justice. When Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, he was doing the right thing. He had a clear bias favoring Trump, so it would not have been correct for him to lead the investigation. This should not have been a basis for firing Jeff Sessions. If anything this indicates that Jeff Sessions has the level of maturity required to be an attorney general. The fact that Trump fired Sessions because of these actions shows that Trump does not want justice to be carried out objectively. What makes this even more worrying is that Trump chose a man who has said things like, “This would raise serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt.” (NY Times). Whitaker believes the investigation to be a “witch hunt” and this leads many to infer that he would not be carrying out the investigation objectively, instead favoring Donald Trump. This makes it seem like Trump purposefully chose Whitaker in order to impede the investigation.