President Donald Trump has forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions just one day after the midterm elections and after nearly a year of berating him for recusing himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. Sessions’s temporary replacement, his chief of staff, is now effectively Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s new boss. But he’s expressed repeated skepticism over the scope of Mueller’s inquiry in the past, raising immediate questions about whether he will try to limit it.
Trump, who has been unsparing in publicly castigating his own Cabinet official, had been hinting that he would ask for Sessions’s resignation following the elections. Privately, Trump has reportedly called him an “idiot” and said that hiring him was a mistake. He first asked Sessions to resign following Mueller’s appointment to lead the probe in May 2017, according to The New York Times, but then wouldn’t accept his resignation.
Legal experts and political strategists who have either worked directly with the president or observed his behavior from afar attributed Trump’s reluctance to fire Sessions to two major considerations: fears in the White House that the move would cost the president support among GOP voters and members of Congress, who generally like and support Sessions, and the risk of provoking further allegations of obstruction of justice—both of which could deepen the challenges already facing the administration. [Continue reading…]