Jeff Sessions, the now-former United States Attorney General, was removed from his post on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, by President Donald Trump. Justice Department Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker was then named the acting attorney general. The appointment comes in the middle of Special Council Robert Muller’s ongoing federal probe into the alleged Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election.
NBC News reported that the action raised some legal inquiries. However, Trump’s actions are undoubtedly within the rules and regulations of Congress.
Appointing Whitaker deviates from the traditional line of succession in the Justice Department. Generally, the deputy attorney general replaces the attorney general under the following conditions, the AG’s death, resignation, or if the AG is no longer able to fulfill the obligations and roles of the position.
However, the president used the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, which allowed Whitaker to be appointed as the acting attorney general.
The Act states that the president can select the first assistant to the attorney general or any other Senate-confirmed officer in the rest of the executive branch of the U.S. Federal Government. He can pick certain non-Senate confirmed senior officials that have spent 90 of the last 365 days in a senior position in the same agency or relevant office in a senior position, as well.
Previous U.S. Attorney Generals
William French Smith was the 74th Attorney General. He served January 23, 1981 – February 25, 1985. He was born on Aug. 26, 1918.
Smith was born in Wilton, New Hampshire. He graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles in 1939, where he earned his A.B. degree, with the highest distinction. He then graduated from Harvard Law School in 1942, where he earned his L.L.B degree.
Smith was sworn in as Attorney General on Jan. 23, 1981 under the Ronald Reagan Administration. He had been Attorney General for the longest amount of time since Herbert Brownell.
Robert F. Kennedy served as the 64th Attorney General to the U.S. Kennedy was born in Boston, Massachusetts on Nov. 20, 1925. He served as the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1944-1946.
He managed his brother John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960. On Jan. 21, 1961 his brother appointed him Attorney General. He resigned on Sep. 3, 1964.
Kennedy was elected as the U.S. Senator from New York State in 1965. He was then assassinated on June 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California.
Written by John A. Federico
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC News: Trump wants to stop Mueller. Jeff Sessions’ resignation and Matthew Whitaker’s promotion helps make this possible.
The United States Department of Justice: ATTORNEYS GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
CNN: Former White House lawyer: Mueller probe isn’t a witch hunt
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