WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation to the president Wednesday.
Reports indicated President Donald Trump requested the resignation and Sessions started his letter resignation with the words, "At your request, I am submitting my resignation."
President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that Sessions' chief of staff Matt Whitaker would become the new acting attorney general.
The attorney general had endured more than a year of stinging and personal criticism from Mr. Trump over his recusal from the investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Mr. Trump blamed the decision for opening the door to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the Russia investigation and began examining whether Mr. Trump's hectoring of Sessions was part of a broader effort to obstruct justice.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, praised Sessions for his years of service.
"Attorney General Sessions has selflessly dedicated more than 40 years to serving the people of Alabama and the nation," he said.
"As our country’s top law enforcement official, he has been integral in fighting the opioid epidemic, keeping violent criminals off our streets, and supporting victims. Those who know him understand his commitment to the rule of law, and his deep and abiding concern for our country.”
“I've had the honor of working closely with Jeff since I came to the Senate, and I'm proud to call him a friend. I wish Jeff and Mary the best of luck in their next chapter, and I hope everyone will join me in honoring his public service to the country," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer says it is "paramount" that the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller be protected by President Donald Trump's new attorney general.
Schumer says he finds the timing of Sessions' departure "very suspect."
He says it would spark a "constitutional crisis" if Mr. Trump forced out Sessions as a "prelude" to ending or limiting Mueller's investigation.
The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee says he wants "answers immediately" after Sessions was forced out.
Rep. Jerry Nadler is in line to become the chairman of the Judiciary panel when Democrats take control of the House in January.
He tweeted that "we will be holding people accountable."
Nadler says he wants to know why Mr. Trump is making the change and "who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller's investigation?"