Republican lawmakers reacted to news of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' resignation with little surprise, while Democrats vowed to use their new House power in the upcoming Congress to dig into the president's reason behind the move.
Whitaker, who may now inherit Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, has written in a CNN op-ed that the inquiry into the Trump campaign is "going too far".
Schumer called it "paramount" that Mueller's status be protected by the new attorney general.
Mr. Trump blamed the decision to recuse for the appointment of Mr. Mueller, who took over the Russian Federation investigation and began examining whether Mr. Trump's hectoring of Mr. Sessions was part of a broader effort to stymie the probe. Now, the person who is now running the Justice Department told CNN... the best way to take care of Mueller is to dry up his funds.
Donald Trump with Mr Sessions in December previous year. "That goes beyond the scope of the special counsel".
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the news broke that Trump risked creating a "constitutional crisis" if he impeded Mueller's investigation, Reuters reported.
"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", Trump told the New York Times in an interview past year.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker wrote an op-ed in 2016 saying he would indict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Why is the President making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller's investigation?" He said the resignation came at "your request". Trump belittled Sessions but, perhaps following the advice of aides, held off on firing him.
"As the Attorney General has repeatedly said, she has not yet made a decision as to what she will do next", spokesman Whitney Ray said.
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Sessions was an enforcer of much of the Trump administration's hardline approach on immigration and regularly praised the President's tough words on crime.
Sessions' also notably increased enforcement of the federal marijuana law, and worked to rollback discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. He had previously said in 2017 that "there will be holy hell to pay" if Sessions was sacked.
"You can't blame Sessions for recusing himself!"
Their relationship wasn't always fractured.
Mr Sessions cited news reports of previously undisclosed meetings he had with Russia's ambassador to Washington as his reason for recusal.
Sessions announced his plan to resign in a letter to the White House on Wednesday. Sessions rejected the entreaty. All this makes it transparently clear that Whitaker should promptly recuse himself - which, alas, is precisely the reason why Trump has promoted him in the first place.
The US President fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, hours after he gave a press conference about the midterm elections.
But that support began to fade, with Grassley suggesting over the summer that he might have time for a hearing after all.