Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump's request

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions often found himself at odds with the president during his nearly two-year tenure.

  • Matthew G. Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Sessions, will take over as acting attorney general.
  • President Donald Trump requested Sessions to resign one day after the midterm elections.
  • Sessions was often brutally criticized by Trump, primarily for recusing himself from the Russia probe.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped down from his position on Wednesday after President Donald Trump asked him to resign.

Trump said Matthew G. Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Sessions, will become the acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is appointed at a later date.

"We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Sessions' resignation marks the end of a tumultuous tenure that last almost two years, during which the Republican attorney general was often on the receiving end of harsh criticism from the president and his allies.

Perhaps most notably, Sessions enraged Trump by deciding to recuse himself from the Russia probe, citing inherent conflicts of interest in the situation.

"I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in," Sessions said.

Trump openly expressed regret at his decision to nominate Sessions.

"The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself," Trump tweeted. "I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined … and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!"

In an interview with Fox News from August, Trump again criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, and for not informing him of his decision prior to the official announcement.

"What kind of man is this?" Trump said.

Sessions responded quickly with a statement.

"While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations," Sessions said. "I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action."

Sessions resignation (or effective firing) comes just one day after the midterm elections. That's not an accident, as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina suggested to reporters in August.

"That's an important office in the country and after the election, I think there will be some serious discussions about a new Attorney General."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

Videos
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less