Russian Federation probe 'under threat' after Sessions fired

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China at the Department of Justice in Washington Thursday Nov. 1 2018. Justice Department and FBI leaders announced criminal charges

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China at the Department of Justice in Washington Thursday Nov. 1 2018. Justice Department and FBI leaders announced criminal charges

The Democrats, who won the House in the mid-terms, have vowed to protect it.

Some Republicans appear to have shared the Democrats' concern over the future of the inquiry, which is being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Through his CNN role, where he was deeply critical of the Mueller probe, Whitaker got to know Trump, who saw him on TV and later met in person.

Democrats see this latest move as an attempt to do just that. Sessions' chief-of-staff, Matthew Whitaker, will be acting attorney-general, Trump said on Twitter.

Her words were echoed by Democratic party Senate leader Chuck Schumer, who added: "Clearly, the president has something to hide."

After recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe, the staunchly conservative Sessions spent his time ramping up efforts to combat violent gangs, drug use and illegal immigration - all key components of Trump's law-and-order agenda.

The department's numer two, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, took over and appointed Mr Mueller after Mr Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Christie is a longtime friend of President Trump's and endorsed him after dropping out of the 2016 presidential campaign.

He said there are only three ways someone can become acting attorney general: if they are the deputy attorney general and the president signs an executive order to make them acting attorney general, if they are already at the Justice Department in a job that both required and received Senate confirmation or if the Senate in in recess, they can be a recess appointment.

Mr Trump has repeatedly pilloried his top law enforcement official since Mr Sessions stepped aside from the Russian Federation investigation in March 2017, allowing his deputy Rod Rosenstein to lead an inquiry that has dogged the White House.

But Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, said he thought such a lawsuit would be unlikely to succeed because the US Supreme Court has said the president has wide latitude to fire executive branch officials.

Whitaker now becomes Mueller's new boss and judging by past statements he will be sympathetic towards Trump.

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Mueller's probe will continue to its end "because no new attorney general can be can be confirmed who will stop that investigation".

Mr Mueller could seek to challenge his own firing if he felt Whitaker lacked the good cause required by the special counsel regulation, said Mr Ohlin.

In addition to Mueller's subpoena of the Trump Organisation, an umbrella company that encompasses Trump's business ventures, federal prosecutors in Manhattan indicted the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for campaign finance fraud related to payments made on behalf of Trump.

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