The Briefing Room: AG Sessions resigns, split-decision midterm elections

Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at President Trump's request and the House and Senate are split by party after Tuesday's midterm elections.
21:55 | 11/07/18

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Transcript for The Briefing Room: AG Sessions resigns, split-decision midterm elections
And. And welcome to the briefing room on this very busy and new Z Wednesday on Devin Dwyer ABC news in Washington Jack starts here justice reporter a lot happening at the Justice Department. Additional news our White House producer were torment the whole team captain Paul worsened join us in a second at the White House. What a day after the Election Day historic turnout historic results overnight we will get into those that some breaking news right now the president. Holding court for more than an hour at the White House didn't show his hand on what was coming and tweeted short time after a press conference today that he has asked. His attorney general to resign Jeff Sessions the much maligned attorney general the general one of his earliest supporters. During the campaign Jack someone who went all in for trump for when the first ever to congress. To back the president. Really got under his skin with that surprise decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department any tweeted this he said we are pleased to point Matt winter credits the chief of staff. To be the acting attorney general we wish Jeff Sessions well the president says some will be named soon. We've sort of expected this to come but I don't think anybody was ready for the big bombshell that happened after that. Branded and directed given that this could split outcome. People. Wonder whether the president would wait a little bit there be cooling off period and you might come in the days and and perhaps weeks ahead. But the the president was asked about say the press conference he's he's pretty much dodged a question but there you have it. And religions already on the journalist break this down there's so much you'd into the sort of take it piece by piece. First thing here Justin you saw do you letter from the attorney general they put that out very quickly Jeff Sessions. The loyalists to the end. Yes I think I think that the saving grace for obsessions that didn't happen. In some terribly embarrassing way I mean it was expected he. It's are denied that it was gonna happen today in that press conference and everybody knew Jeff was on the on the chopping block I mean. It that in this this is this isn't it look he's had worse tweets. About. About. I'm getting rid of cabinet members and this is obviously a statement from Jeff Sessions his resignation letter today I think he was. It'll do it the best terms possible concerns are that's right I asked one of Jess Jeff Sessions is closest aides say a few weeks in Dorset if and when the attorney general leaves will he. Will he go more like an Omer assessment with guns a blazing tapes are dropping or will he be. More of a loyalist and is it sessions aide told me he is going to be quiet loyalists to the and we saw no matter Jack. But the big question now is who's gonna oversee the Russian investigation. So it. Right now there appears met Whitaker the acting attorney general will oversee the probe he has the authority to do so he's viewed it appears that he's going to be taking over in the areas that would occur to us and our network he's strictly he's been serving as the chief of staff for the attorney general. He previously served as US attorney in Iowa. He's former tight end for the university Iowa. And he's well liked the Justice Department at the White House has an excellent reputation as a prosecutor. And he's a guy charged him. In just and he is going to be subject this is some pretty intense scrutiny. Right even in his position as acting director which the president convenient to he has been critical publicly of the Muller probe in the past effect a year ago on CNN hero. How bad Graham to run out and saying that once they get into the financials. It has gone too far so these are even out there. Sort of criticizing this investigation which some could say hey look here. You eat you're not supposed to be doing that and Democrats are warning about that take a look at the surprised by senate to a democratic leader Chuck Schumer when he heard the news today. Your vote. Hope. Well I'd say this I've just heard the news. But I'd say this. Protecting. Mueller. And his investigation. Is Paramount. It would create a constitutional crisis if this were pre loot. To ending or greatly limiting. The Mahler. Investigation. Any attorney general whether this one or another one. Should not be able to interfere with the Mahler investigation in any way but we would hope. If there's a constitutional crisis. That. Our Republican colleagues would join us in thwarting the president from creating a crisis. Democrats are already talking about whether or not this is a sign that changes afoot at the Russia probe which is gone on now for over a year. And just moments before the president dropped the news was at the Justice Department here's what he had to say. But what he could do to them Russian investigation the next few weeks take a listen. From. The fact that. People Paris to jobs. From the fact that they have very good friends on the other side like really good friends like Coby. Who by the way lie and leaked. And was a leak classified information nothing happened there. It might perhaps maybe something's happening that I don't know that I stay away from it but you know and I do. I let me just go line. There wasting a lot of money but I let it go on. Because. I wanna do that but you're right I could end it right now I could say that investigation. Is over here. But it's it's really. It's a disgrace frankly and it's an embarrassment to our country. I so Jack what's your bottom line I'm what we know so far will the Russian investigation be changed any way affected any way by this. Shift came right now you know special counsels and commenting on the dismissal of obsessions or or of the new he's particular unlawful special special counsels can continue doing its work. And your words Nancy Howe plays out to see if the justice promulgate more heavy handed about it management of the probe it's expected that that. Global prepped go on through the you know perhaps the end of the year we might see report. And in some sort of loose ends tied up in that probes may be nearing. Completion anyway. And so this interim period may get us two. A report for a conclusion or something that submitted. And we know the president is contemplating some written responses to Bob Mueller we know they're trying to move that's all along meanwhile though the president was revel in a good bit today. In the political outcome of last night he quickly is something big spin on this let's take a little bit of who listen to the president earlier in case you missed. It's more than an hour long press conference after last since mid terms. He told me the other day that you are an open book so I think I am an open. So point blank Democrats. Go after your tax returns will you try to blocked outerwear you. Along I. As I've told you there are under they have been for a long time they're extremely complex people wouldn't understand it's very. Complex instrument and I think that. People wouldn't understand it but if I were finished with the audit. I would have an open mind to it I would say that but an order doing during the audit and and really no lawyer. Even from the other side they say often violence. When you're under you don't have you don't subject it. To that you get it done and then you release it. So when that happens if that happens I would certainly have an open mind to such levies if the audit is still on you'll not. Turn over the tax return elect went under and I nobody would nobody turns over return when it's under. Our program the president drawing a line in the sand. Ahead of what is going to be an onslaught just saying democratic investigations. Sort of got a little bit of flavor them yeah we've heard that one before that that then they're under audit the new rules and you answer today is people want understand the risks are all too complicated at all and it was also unclear to me that he understands what subpoena power actually is what what what is headed his way I'm these committees I think he does and I think he. I look plans saying this morning I think he knows they're coming after his taxes he knew everything he can defining I think we're gonna see. Unparalleled. Sort of you know enough for an unparalleled affront to congressional oversight of this presidency. There's some question about whether or not he can control. Whether the taxes are handover and if he has any way to avoid that from happening he's going to use it and he's going to fight. And one of the people that will determine just how far Democrats go in digging into Trump's personal finances is Nancy Pelosi she sort of be presumed. Front runner if you need they. Democrats speaker of the house yours with the president had to say about her. After he received a call from the democratic leader last night Nicholas. Perhaps. It looks like I would think speaker. Nancy Pelosi. And and I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard and she's worked long and hard. I give her a great deal of credit for what she's done and what she's accomplished. Hopefully we can all work together next year to continue delivering. For the American people. And just as soon as the president stepped off the stage here's what Nancy Pelosi had to say about that same conversation. Last night I had that conversation with president on about how we could work together on the issues that came up was part of that was of people in ten. Building infrastructure of America and I hope that we can achieve that he talked about it during his campaign. And really didn't come through with it in his first two years in office but. That issue has not been part of an issue and congress of the United States over the years we've been able to work together. Regionally. Let's bring our political director Rick Klein who has been following this story all night long let the rest of us Rick great to heavier selling New York election headquarters. Isn't it nice we have little glimmers of bipartisanship. Today for one day how long do you think that's. Alas it already ended guys instant check your watch I mean I think it was never gonna happen in all seriousness though I do think they'll be opportunities for president crumple like the scrambled and act. He's using I don't know where we're talking Nancy case we maybe I'll find something a one off here as when he's not gonna attack her. Again the next day fight those very choosing to me and policies comments today how restrained she was she. Was making clear that she is not gonna send Democrats out on a bunch of fishing expedition she wants the rain in the investigations. Let the evidence. Dictate where they go she's already camping down any talk about impeachment. I she's made clear to her members they wanna see what Mueller produces before they have any kind of action around the Russian peace because there's a lot of Democrats who just want to move in move fast we know there are. Dozens and maybe more than fifty or sixty subpoenas ready to fly from committee chairs they'll be installed in January Nancy Pelosi is gonna have to restrain that if she is indeed the house speaker. She's gonna try to restrain it but they'd no doubt she's going to be pressed from the left wing of her party. And here's how well she answered our Mary Bruce. Rick on just what that could mean with respect to cooperating with the president Nicholas. He made clear that if Democrats launched investigations that any hopes for bipartisanship. Is off do you have any concerns that these investigations could jeopardize your opportunities to legislate. They do not intend to abandon. Relinquish our responsibility. As article one the first batch of governance in our responsibility. For accountability. For oversight and the rest. That this doesn't mean they go looking for five but it means that we see. Up the need to go forward we've now. So Rick what are the top list of investigations he you've been hearing are coming down the pike. And India how how much you think it's an upset the president. Weldon the trump tax returns are are kind of that is victory gold pot sitting there somewhere that's that they've had they're all manner of reasons that you could see committees want to get at that. A lot of talk about the so all the monuments clause which prohibits the president. From making any money off of off of any kind of a foreign nation a lot of talk about what those states are trump hotels are like. Any kind of action around in the business relationship of the president and his family. We're and in any potential enrichment that they may gain from official actions is going to be an assured me talk about even that the location of the new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington. Bid potentially making only dozens of different directions any. Of the other than the scandals the kind of fly by ass regarding cabinet members all of that is potentially on the table once you've got the subpoena power in the US congress and I think you guys are right to the president. Doesn't seem to fully comprehend this on his responses on Carl what it means that subpoena power he may never had a boss before. Who could tell it what to do. And now he's gonna have an independent branch of government that's gonna have an actual say in and in compel him under penalty of legal action to produce documents for members of his administration to appear before congress in sworn testimony. That makes this a new date whatever is said about any battleground districts and where's the president's party did well in senate races gubernatorial races. Fixed fact that Democrats control the house come January that is a sea change in American politics the president of hasn't even begun. To adjust to. It sure is Rick and before we let you go give us your top winds from the night we know all the results are laid out. In the note to an ABC news that com we were just seen some of the graphics there on the house side did net gain at least a 28 seats for Democrats so far. Big night for Republicans in the senate. Yeah I can't think of a more perfect way to distill the divisions of this nations and the talk about. Be divided message that was satin you had of voters in very red parts of the country including a much a senate races and some governors races say you know what. We like trumpets of we like what that means and that means that they're going to be more Republican senators by the way to confirm. A replacement for Jeff Sessions a little more flexibility for the president as a result of that patted Republican majority at the scene time. It was a Republican wiped out in the suburbs you can travel from outside new York and Washington DC and Richmond in Miami and Chicago and Dallas and Houston Salt Lake City in Los Angeles. And all of those places you had a Republican representative who no longer make may have a job as a result of this election. Though democratic blue wave hitting those folks and and sending unmistakable message to those parts of the country that their preferences no longer have Republican leadership because they're a long time for to Republicans. To recover those so called country club Republican districts as a direct result evolved from. All right a new chapter in Washington we know you're headed back this way Rick thank you so much for that and we'll see a very shortly down here back in the briefing room. Justin there are number of historic races that are still out. Right now those two governors' races we've been following really interesting right you've been tracking this very closely eight inbound and in Florida Illinois attorney Gil and curriculum is this is Florida. Stacey Abrams in Georgia two very close races as you know in fact potentially going to recounts in both places that bring in Victor can go down in Florida he's. Off following that close senate race and governor's race Victor thanks so much for joining us it's pretty incredible down there were doing could be headed for recounts again. Well floor will always keeps it interesting guys less than an hour ago senator bill Wilson's campaign tweeted Jing. Looks like we're headed for a recount. All this is a razor thin margin we're talking about here less than half a percentage point you know we are headed for that recounts are here's what's gonna happen next. All Ford is 67 counties we'll be checking their tallies. The Nelson campaign has team members all throughout the state at this point in there is a deadline for this November 10 at noon so there they give a few days for this recount here. Senator Nelson was going force fourth term meanwhile the Rick Scott campaign not mincing any words about this. A spokesman for Rick Scott said the race is over it's a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exist. The Nelson campaign meanwhile saying that the small difference in the overall vote here was despite being the huge discrepancy here in the amount that each camp spent. Rick Scott spent some 68 point eight million dollars to Nelson's 27 point nine million these candidates are so different everything to gun control to health care. Rick Scott was president Trump's guy but just this afternoon president. Trump said that. Wilson was not easy to beat that he basically declared Rick's. The winner this a mean that we have Republican senator Marco Rubio Republican senator Rick Scott and of course now. Governor rod sent us. Have picked her bit of a red wave hit Florida last night fascinating results thank you so much for your reporting there and it looked like Justin from days have also older voters in Florida. We're the ones that decided. Those two key race is very skittish of change and Republicans were effective in branding their Democrats Medicare policies picture I think so many Americans can relate to this is that you watching these these numbers come back and you're just. Amazed by how Ashley down the middle. How close you can have eight million people voting and it's just separated from a couple doesn't play truly divided. And and and an incredibly close and race was a big factor in both of those governors races as well it was something I heard on the ground both in Georgia and in Florida court the past few weeks and before that Victor ago. One more time to you Victor what it what did you see. The impact of race is being in that tight governor's race and where things stand right now back count. Well that was another nailed by a here and being a very very contentious and heated race here between Desantis and Tallahassee mayor injured guilin. Of course Desantis was Trump's guy all along we've all seen that campaign. Where Rhonda six assists playing around this kids having them build a fake wall and he was reading them presidential vote. The art of the deal president trump of course campaigning for Desantis right here Florida. And going so far Astor called kill them. They still cold feet. And a of radical socialist. This is a very close case like Gil did concede even before ABC news was able to call this race he spoke to be heartbroken crowd there in Tallahassee. But he did vow to continue fighting saying quote I can guarantee you this I am not going anywhere that's. All right he's a fighter potentially a candidate for higher profits on the lines certainly a rising star on the left Victor can know in Florida forced into so much for that and we should say that the Georgia governor's rates as we follow very closely here and ABC news live is also razor thin 85000 votes mentioned did are between Stacy Abrams and Brian camp we know that Abrams team thinks they can do it within the margin it's enforcer run off. In the next few days we see the numbers here now on that would. Mean voters in Georgia could have to go back to the polls again you know the president called it today though he said he was out there battling Oprah and he won and you know he gave him off. He gave himself a lot of my and its predecessor Barack Obama always actually well. Well there was no shortage of celebrations last night on both sides of the aisle a lot of shining moments for Republicans and for Democrats and many of these key states. We put together a little highlights real four AF will leave you with that we'll see you next time here. Other than serving our nation in uniform. The opportunity to serve as the 46. Governor of the great state of art out. Is the greatest professional honor my life. We recognize that you know. We didn't waste and I am we didn't win his. But I want Jonathan just did and it's. That's what we believe me still hold true today cars. Part hearing hours. Things and aren't giving me your. Farm is inspired him. I'm is hopeful. As I've ever been. In my life and tonight's loss. Does nothing to diminish the way that I feel about taxes for this country. Paul was what you do you. I'm me. It's important. And we have proven that every single day Jordan. Wood doors knocked with calls made with miles traveled. With prayers prayed to the Hyatt haven't. And tonight we have closed the gap between guests and today and tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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