Transcript for Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump's request
This is an ABC news. Now reports didn't beat New York. Good afternoon everyone I'm David to a from ABC news headquarters here a New York we are erupting regularly scheduled programming to bring you breaking news at this hour. Attorney general Jeff Sessions has now resigned at the request of the president it takes effect immediately. President trump wasting no time beginning to reorganize his cabin after yesterday's midterm election. As you know his relationship with attorney general sessions has been contentious for quite some time the president never forgiving him for recusing himself in the Russian investigation. It was just a short time ago we were carrying the news conference president from turning of weight questions about whether he would replace sessions. But he has now tweeted the news announcing that Matthew Witter current chief of staff. To sessions will actually become the new acting attorney general. I want to get right to our chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl because this came swift after this news conference where he would not take questions obsessions. It sure did David and I am told that this was directly in response to requests from the president asking for that letter of resignation. Asking him to resign I'm told it will take place effective immediately. The president had been furious at his attorney general really for about a year and a half ever since he recused himself. After he became attorney general I. Had a at a rather extensive conversation with somebody familiar with sessions thinking on all of this. Who said that throughout the last year and a half while the president's. Many times and a very public ways. This are rated him in and that move of of of recusing himself a from the Russian investigation. That the president never directly what brought those concerns up with sessions never once called sessions to complain about it and over all of this time. He never asked sessions to resign so the request. Finally came after the mid term elections and sessions responded immediately to resign its interest thing David in the letter of resignation that sessions. Turned into the White House to the president. He said in part. He talked about his his legacy as attorney general. To implementing the president's agenda but they said most importantly in my times' attorney general we have restored. And upheld the rule of law. A glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard and I am told by against somebody. Familiar with sessions thinking that he never wants. Had any second thoughts about his decision to recuse himself from the Russian investigation or how we handled it. He simply believed. Did in terms of rule of law. He was somebody that was in the leadership of the trump campaign they would be entirely inappropriate for him to have anything to do with supervising. An investigation into that campaigns are. Or is never any second thoughts to recusing himself Jon Karl thanks to you and in fact in a letter that John sites their moments ago read the very top he said dear Mr. President. At your request I am submitting my resignation there you see litter on your screen. I want to show viewers at home between from the president that just a came in a short time ago saying we are pleased to announce that. Matthew Whitaker chief of staff attorney general Jeff Sessions of the Department of Justice will become our new acting attorney general. Here in the US he will serve our country well the president tweets. But again just coming in moments ago I do want to bring in George Stephanopoulos because obviously George the bigger question here. What does this mean for deputy attorney general rob rose and Stein what does it mean for the Moeller investigation. Chrysler right now the rubber in the senate until over team. The more investigate new. Acting attorney general has not been confirmed by this that he can't over and can't take over the investigation right now but we also know that. The president was very unhappy guitar rock it looked like just speak speak. Before the election that he was on his way out is well and I cheated and reporting it go let us talk his resignation the president put that on all of them want to do anything. Wooden turtle creek the president prepared to make a move on that now what's amazing is how long it kept out for the president to push. Jeff Sessions that she said the original temperature sessions in the park this march was accusing himself from the rush investigation was not kicking each. The range of that investigation what we saw. Over the last year and a helpless and extraordinary never seen book or public feud. Between the president and his own attorney general but mr. O sporting action Jeff Sessions. Working for the department preserving traditions. Administering to the Department of Justice. I would standing that a soft and not lead paint on his own huge out now Boller still hard at work. George course you and I were on the air into the wee hours of the morning and and the exit polls showing waning support from the American people when it comes to the Muller investigation that could also reflect the sheer amount of time. That this investigations been underway and we haven't heard from Robert Moeller yet any expectation that we would hear in the coming weeks what Robert Mueller has discovered. Well it seems like he he abided by this. Just department Mormon not acting in district two day window. Of an election we know his grand jury has been we don't you take a hard look at one of the president's oldest friends & Associates Roger Stone and we know he's been repair preparing a report. On the president's activities. As well there's been a back in port several months the president and his team or whether the president would answer questions about possible charge of justice in collusion with Russia I would expect he would she. She Sharman actions firm Robert Mueller relatively soon perhaps before the end of the year but as you know. He doesn't say anything to anyone out I think he's not one single. George Stephanopoulos on the swift move from president trump today just a day after the mid terms asking for the resignation of his attorney general Jeff Sessions. AG sessions now saying he will in fact. Resign at the request of the president let's bring in our Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas who joined us from Washington as well they're clearly reacting to this at the Justice Department. Yes they are I can tell you. That this had been anticipated the expectation was that sessions would be you resign or be fired. He makes it very clear in this letter that this quote is at your request I'm submitting. My resignation letter is to the president of the United States. And again session had been under complete and utter fire from the president of constant. Under constant attack in terms or ridicule and sources and people. Close to him say that he. Did what he had to do in terms the refusal because department guidelines said that he had to do it. And it's always many at the Justice Department were surprised that the president continued to attack and win simply the guidelines. Mandated that sessions had to recuse themselves. Now suddenly presents recorder are saying basically that. He and the president said openly that he was upset that sessions took the job knowing that this potential was there that he might have to recuse himself. But right now the Justice Department is in the very unusual situation of such is stepping down deputy attorney general who's overseeing the Muller investigation. On thin ice as well and again goes a lot of uncertainly at the Justice Department but the people will attempt to do their jobs even under these difficult circumstances. Here stick with this hero to bring in former New Jersey governor Chris Christie who's also with us all night long covering the mid term elections and now with a son. AG Jeff Sessions now resigning moments ago in and Governor Christie what does this mean for rod Rosen Steiner deputy attorney general who of course is overseeing the Moeller investigation. What's his future look like. Well you could best be determined. If your birthday. I really believe that the president Wu eve. Locked in place to continue to oversee similar investigation. But don't think that'll make the change in our record at least gotten a but in terms of our long term you know is also barred -- position but it looked so that he the president certainly after the Scotts. I'm and that kind of natural at it determines you know. How about who you breakneck kind of assessment but I think today. Is really doubt Jeff Sessions and the breakdown of the relationship. Between the president and the attorney general and I don't believe that the day has any direct impact Barbara's part. Governor Christie. You know that your name has been floated as an idea potential. The suggestion for attorney general inside this trump White House would you take the call. You're didn't let her sit all along there's been lots of different offers for me. To join the administration. Since the beginning of the administration which which are currently separate are but I always say that. You know it president calls you or anything like he could corrections and asking to cheer your your commission put him. I'll know I agree to do that. A yoga stick call from the president no matter which party. And you learn and you listen to have to say but I'm as you know. We're all you really speak number person that I have going not so it's got out of control work period. Let me ask you don't worry Oakley busy yeah I don't want to put you on the spot as far as whether or not he would take the job but if you were to get the phone call what would you advise the president. He has listened your advice before what would you advise about. A protecting the Moeller investigation and rob rose and stuff. Aura materialistic you're turning you're really walloped. And foremost so that we avoid in the future. On the type of really difficult conflict. That went on between senior attorney general assertions which is not good for the current marker or the department. And so mark. Debris. Take your breath sort of wants to be a general for the next two years. And get that done first then. In conjunction with whoever your new attorney general could it would be. But then this is the coordinator grounds you know who worked with the part right but I'd ranking certain that the market action is something that. It seems everyone in our rep I'm in this group is coming to conclusion. Ensue yet. Yup I'm in a row you hear just grabbed the battle of via cellphone reception we got most of what you said their governor Christine we should point out that this. Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker is not part cues from the Russia probe so. He is as the aid acting attorney general he would now be in charge of the rusher probe a role that rob Rosen Stein has had up until this one will continue to report this out when their entire team. Our thanks to John Pierre George and Governor Christie on the breaking news attorney general Jeff Sessions resigning just a short time ago. At the request of the president will have much more later on world news tonight in right here at abcnews.com. All afternoon I'm David. Good day. This has been a special. Maybe.
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