Will Sessions' resignation stop Mueller? - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Will Sessions' resignation stop Mueller?

The predictions made for the Nov. 6 midterm elections in the U.S. turned out to be roughly right. The Democrats took control in the House of Representatives, but the Republicans did not lose control in the Senate. The Republicans increasing their number of seats in the Senate signifies a "long-term political loss" for the Democrats. Thanks to the Republicans in the Senate, U.S. President Donald Trump is going to be able to fill the hundreds of vacant positions in the federal court system with conservative judges.

The first development that made its mark on the agenda following the elections was Attorney General Jeff Sessions' resignation. It was no secret that Trump wanted a cabinet that is more loyal to him. Yet, Sessions, who was a strong advocate of Trump, had a falling out with him because of the Russia investigation. Sessions, though on the same page with Trump on numerous subjects, primarily the issue of migrants, did everything Trump wanted, except for the Russia investigation. He did not pay attention to the suggestions with respect to dismissing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation - and Rosenstein did not incline to discharge Robert Mueller. Both figures have the support of both parties in Congress.

The investigation on the claims that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential elections in favor of Trump was being conducted under FBI Director James Comey. Trump discharged Comey, because he had doubts about his loyalty. According to the Democrats, who describe Comey's discharge as the "obstruction of justice," this process is a constitutional crime that requires the dismissal of U.S. presidents.

Upon Comey's discharge, Attorney General Sessions became the authority of the investigation. However, Sessions renounced this authority as he was in Trump's election campaign. Therefore, the authority to carry out the investigation passed on to the second man in the department: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Upon this, Rosenstein tasked former FBI chief Robert Mueller for the Russia investigation. Mueller conducted an intricate investigation that disturbed both Trump and his family members. Trump deemed this investigation from the very beginning as being a "witch hunt" and "deep state conspiracy" against him.

Trump is yet to be directly addressed for the accusation until now, but it is said that Mueller's team prepared a list of questions for Trump to answer. It is said this list has been sent to Trump's legal team. However, Trump's attorneys are yet to reach a decision about whether or not Trump should answer the questions. According to those around Trump, Mueller's team are asking "questions to which they already know the answers." As a matter of fact, they claim that the questions are trick questions aimed to make Trump stumble. Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's attorneys, told Politico magazine that they are preparing answers to these questions for Trump to review. Giuliana also remarked that they have not given any guarantees to send these answers to Mueller. It seems it will become clearer whether Mueller will be given an answer after Trump's return to Washington from Paris.

Following Sessions’ resignation, Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Practices required either the second man in department, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, or someone with the Senate's approval to be appointed for this position. Jurists defend that Trump's appointment of Whitaker is not in line with the constitution. Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway's husband George Conway is also among these jurists.

Whitaker, who does not have the Senate's vote for this position, had criticized the Mueller investigation on many occasions. Now, how Whitaker will approach the Russia investigation is being discussed. The question is: will Whitaker also renounce his authority to oversee the investigation like Sessions, or will he prevent Mueller from continuing his task? The Democrats, with control over the House of Representatives, have declared that their first steps will be to protect Mueller. This topic will be more hotly debated in the upcoming days.


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