It's a desperate move that could prompt a constitutional crisis.
Trump has finally done it.
After a year of bashing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and not-so-subtly hinting that he wanted him gone, and after Republicans suffered humiliating losses in the House, Trump has forced Sessions to resign.
It’s a desperate and potentially disastrous move that could lead to a constitutional crisis over special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Trump.
Sessions will be replaced by his chief of staff, Matt Whitaker — who, unlike Sessions, is unlikely to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation.
In fact, Whitaker outlined a plan to undermine the Mueller investigation on CNN in 2017: “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.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday called the move a “slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre,” referring to Richard Nixon’s infamous attempt to protect himself by firing his attorney general and deputy attorney general when they stayed loyal to the rule of law instead of to Nixon.
Perhaps Trump is panicking now that the Democrats have retaken control of the House, which will give them tremendous oversight power to investigate Trump.
But Trump has also long been furious with Sessions for having the audacity to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, which Sessions did because he had genuine conflicts of interest.
This was possibly the only thing Sessions did right as attorney general, although he says Department of Justice regulations forced him to do it.
Sessions has overseen cruel and racist policies like the separation of children from their parents at the border, Trump’s Muslim ban, suppressing minority votes, and denying asylum to victims of domestic violence.
In many ways, the nation is better off without him — and Trump’s racist agenda has lost one of its fiercest supporters.
But when it comes to the Mueller investigation and executive power, Sessions’ effective firing could represent a true crisis for American democracy.