In a resignation letter, Jeff Sessions – a former Alabama senator who was an early supporter of Donald Trump – made clear the decision to go was not his own.
He wrote: “Dear Mr. President, at your request I am submitting my resignation.”
“Most importantly as my time as attorney general, we have restored and upheld the rule of law,” he added, while thanking the president.
President Trump has repeatedly pilloried the attorney general since Jeff Sessions stepped aside from the Russia investigation in March 2017, allowing his deputy Rod Rosenstein to lead an inquiry that has dogged the White House.
In July 2017, President Trump told the New York Times: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
The president has at various times belittled Jeff Sessions as “beleaguered”, “VERY weak”, and “DISGRACEFUL”.
According to a White House official, Chief of Staff John Kelly called Jeff Sessions before President Trump’s combative press conference to discuss midterm election results on November 7.
The attorney general’s exit comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to hunt for evidence of potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation – overseen by the DoJ – has resulted in a series of criminal charges against several of Trump associates.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted after the announcement was made: “Clearly, the President has something to hide.”
Chuck Schumer added: “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.”
Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation on September 25 after leading the Justice Department since the first days of President Barack Obama’s term.
Eric Holder, 63, is the fourth-longest-serving attorney general in US history.
America’s first black attorney general and an unflinching champion of civil rights in enforcing the nation’s laws is the administration’s point man on the civil rights investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.
He won’t leave until a replacement is confirmed, which means he could remain in office for months.
In an emotional ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama said Eric Holder did a “superb job” and credited him with driving down both the nation’s crime and incarceration rate – the first time they have declined together in more than 40 years.
“He believes as I do that justice is not just an abstract theory,” Barack Obama said.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation after leading the Justice Department since the first days of President Barack Obama’s term (photo CBS News)
“It’s a living and breathing principal. It’s about how our laws interact with our daily lives.”
Only three other attorneys general in US history have served longer than Eric Holder. He also is one of the longest-serving of Barack Obama’s original Cabinet members. Two others remain: Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Eric Holder and his wife are close personally to the Obamas, having recently vacationed together on Martha’s Vineyard, and Barack Obama told him of his intention to depart over the summer.
White House officials said Barack Obama had not made a final decision on a replacement for Eric Holder, who was one of the most liberal voices in his Cabinet. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said naming a new attorney general would be a high priority for the president.
Some possible candidates that have been mentioned among administration officials include Solicitor General Don Verrilli; Deputy US Attorney General James Cole; White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler; Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York; Jenny Durkan, a former US attorney in Washington state, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island attorney general.
US Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning after six years on the job.
Eric Holder is the nation’s first black attorney general.
The White House said that President Barack Obama would announce Eric Holder’s departure later Thursday, September 25, and that Holder planned to remain at the Justice Department until his successor was in place. White House officials said President Barack Obama had not made a final decision on a replacement for Eric Holder, who was one of the most progressive voices in his Cabinet.
US Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning after six years on the job
Advisers to Barack Obama and Eric Holder said the attorney general had been planning his departure with the president for some time. Some possible candidates who have been discussed among administration officials include Solicitor General Don Verrilli, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Deputy US Attorney General James Cole and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island attorney general.
Eric Holder, a 63-year-old former judge and prosecutor, took office in early 2009 as the US government grappled with the worst financial crisis in decades and with divisive questions on the handling of captured terrorism suspects, issues that helped shape his tenure as the country’s top law enforcement official. He is the fourth-longest serving attorney general in U.S. history.
He also took on questions of racial fairness, working to improve police relations with minorities, enforce civil rights laws and remove disparities in sentencing. Most recently he became the Obama administration’s point man in the federal response to the police shooting last month of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. In the shooting’s aftermath, he enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study possible racial bias in law enforcement.
The news of Eric Holder’s resignation came as civil rights leaders and the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who died in a New York City police chokehold this summer, were appearing at a news conference in Washington calling on the Justice Department to take over investigations into the deaths.