U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Jeff Sessions has resigned his post as U.S. attorney general, the high-level cabinet post in charge of the U.S. Justice Department. The resignation letter begins with the words "At your request" which suggests that Donald Trump asked him to resign, essentially firing the top attorney.
In an undated letter addressed to President Donald J. Trump, Sessions writes that he did his work at the Justice Department "to the best of his ability." He also touts his "achievements" by saying that his adminstration "prosecuted the largest number of violent and firearm defendants in our country's history." In fact, since Sessions took over, he was widely considered "tough on crime" and rolled back many of the Obama-era criminal justice reforms meant to reduce the overall prison population, ignoring data and statistics, and favoring maximum punishment.
This annoucement came one day after results of the U.S. midterm election showed that the Republicans, Trump's party, lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, meaning that Democrats will now have the power to launch further investigations into the claims of corruption, campaign finance, and Russian election interference that have plagued his adminstration. They will also now have to power to request information on Trump's tax returns from the Interal Revenue Services.
Sessions had fallen out of favor with Trump since he recused himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign's collusion with Russia in the national elections of 2016. Trump had expected the country's top attorney to defend him, and expressed public disappointment at the recusal.
The attorney general was an early supporter of Trump, echoing the anti-immigrant rhetoric that exemplified Trump's style. Sessions' hosility against immigrant groups, including those seeking amnesty, threw a lot of doubt into the status of various immigrant groups. From undocumented Dreamers — immigrants brought to the country as children, often knowing no other country than the U.S. — to those trying to enter legally through the asylum system, no one was safe.
In addition to his anti-immigrant stance, Sessions was well known for his attacks against civil rights and voting rights against U.S. citizens, often Black citizens. His failed nomination to a federal judge in Alabama was partly due to his racial offensive comments that became public.
Overall, his far-right record shows that he will go down a problematic figure in history. Anthony Romero, director of the ACLU issued the following scathing statement describing Sessions' tenure:
“From his plot to deport Dreamers, remove police and law enforcement accountability, discriminate against trans people, perpetuate and expand senseless enforcement of racist drug laws, use of religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people and undermine reproductive rights, abandon protections for women against violence, and even lie to the Senate to cover up Trump campaign contact with Russian officials, his tenure as the highest chief law enforcement officer was a complete disgrace to our nation’s constitutional protections,” Romero said.
While the response on the resignation has been widely critical, many believing that it is politically motiviated, and, so far, no replacement for U.S. attorney general has been announced.