Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is considering former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sources familiar with the matter said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) once vowed that there would be holy hell to pay if President Donald Trump ever fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
After dropping out of the Republican primary, Christie endorsed Mr. Trump and was in the running to be his running mate. He was also considered for Cabinet positions, among them DHS secretary. He also led Mr. Trumps transition team for a time, although he was marginalized by other Trump aides and had only limited influence. Christie has since rebuilt his relationship with Mr. Trump and other senior officials.
Yet when Sessions got the boot on Wednesday ― his letter said he resigned at the presidents request ― Graham offered a different message.
Who are the contenders to be the new Attorney General now that Jeff Sessions was forced to resign?
I look forward to working with President Trump to find a confirmable, worthy successor so that we can start a new chapter at the Department of Justice and deal with both the opportunities and challenges our nation faces, he said in a statement online.
Graham also praised Sessions, saying he had served our nation well and honorably and dedicated his whole life to conservatism and upholding the Rule of Law.
Lindsay Graham: "Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency." pic.twitter.com/CZGyL8i3D5
The Acting Attorney General could insist that Mueller keep him abreast of all investigative and prosecutorial steps in the ongoing probe and could simply decide that particular steps were inappropriate or unwarranted under established Department practices and block them. Such steps could include decisions to interview witnesses, subpoena documents or witnesses to the grand jury, seek search warrants, or pursue charges. In theory at least, the Acting Attorney General could review and stop any or every investigative or prosecutorial step that Mueller hoped to pursue. Department of Justice policies afford broad discretion to prosecutors, and the Acting Attorney General could claim that Muellers proposed actions represented an inappropriate exercise of discretion. For example, the Principles of Federal Prosecution, set out in the Justice Manual, specify that prosecutors should commence prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence of a federal crime unless the prosecution would serve no substantial federal interest. (JM 9-27.220). Whitaker could simply assert that the Mueller investigation, or large swaths of it pertaining to Trump campaign associates, no longer served a substantial federal interest and stop all further activity within that part of the investigation. The Acting Attorney Generals decision would be formally unreviewable—no court, for instance, would have the power to assess the validity of the Acting Attorney Generals decision.
Video: Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Pam Bondi reportedly considered for AG
The president is entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, he said. And I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice.
The Acting Attorney General could take such bold steps, but only through a transparently bad faith interpretation of the law. Thats because the Special Counsel regulations permit the Attorney General to block actions of the Special Counsel only upon a finding that such actions are inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices. That is not a claim that the Acting Attorney General will easily make in good faith about any of Muellers proposed steps. Justice Department policy and practice is broad and permissive in terms of what it allows US Attorneys to do in pursuing investigations and criminal cases. While it seeks to guide the exercise of discretion by prosecutors, it does not generally limit with bright lines the lawful investigative and prosecutorial authorities of those prosecutors. The steps that Mueller has taken to date that have become public are all well within the heartland of actions that federal prosecutors take across US Attorneys offices every day and could under no circumstances be described as inappropriate or unwarranted. There is no reason to imagine that it will be otherwise going forward. And regarding the federal interest served by the investigation, Mueller and others could point to the extensive definition of federal interest provided in the Justice Manual and the ways that his investigation meets it.
There have been rumors that Graham was being considered for the attorney general job. Last month, he claimed Trump jokingly asked if he wanted it. Graham told CNN that he rejected the overture.
As Trump did on Wednesday. Sessions has, at least temporarily, been replaced by an acting attorney general who appears to take a dim view of the Robert Mueller Russia investigation, which he will now oversee. If that is not a shot across the bow to Jerrold Nadler, Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, and all the incoming Democratic committee chairmen who will investigate and otherwise bedevil him, then it is difficult to imagine what would be.
'If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.' — Lindsey Graham in [email protected] could you explain this, sycophant?#coward #ProtectMueller #flipflops
Do GOP senators have the courage to fight for our democracy?
Me, waiting for @LindseyGrahamSC to do literally anything after saying: "If Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay", in July 2017 pic.twitter.com/EFYHOjZgB5