Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff and a critic of Mueller’s inquiry, had been appointed acting attorney general and that a permanent replacement would be nominated later.
Whitaker, 49, will take charge of the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign. Sarah Isgur Flores, a justice department spokeswoman, said in an email: “The acting attorney general is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice.”
Democrats expressed concern that the president was moving to sabotage Mueller’s investigation, which has obtained guilty pleas to federal criminal charges from Trump’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, White House national security adviser and campaign foreign policy adviser.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said in a statement that Whitaker should recuse himself from the Russia issue in light of “his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation”.