Jeff Sessions is officially out as US Attorney General. Earlier today, Sessions resigned from his position at the request of President Donald Trump, who has openly criticized Sessions' handling of the Russia investigation and other issues for months now.
The departure is a welcome turn of events for cannabis advocates since Sessions is one of the most outspoken opponents of marijuana legalization. But his replacement could be even worse. For now, Matthew Whitaker - Sessions' former Chief of Staff - will take over as acting attorney general, but he may only serve as a stopgap until Trump picks a permanent replacement.
With that in mind, here are 8 candidates who could succeed Sessions as Trump's attorney general.
The former New Jersey governor was an early supporter of Trump during the 2016 election. Christie was briefly considered as a possible running mate, and after the election was seen as a candidate for Attorney General. If Sessions leaves, getting a Trump ally into the administration may seem like a good option. It was also Jared Kushner who allegedly stopped Christie’s nomination in 2016, and now that he may be out of favor in the White House, Christie may have more support.
The former mayor of New York City and US Attorney would actually be fairly qualified for the position. Giuliani is also often trotted out to defend Trump in the media for the past few years. Another Trump ally, but would some of his more controversial statements in recent years prevent him from being confirmed?
Texas Senator Ted Cruz previously worked in the Bush administration and served as Solicitor General for the state of Texas before being elected to the Senate. While that’s not exactly a shining endorsement for Attorney General, it’s certainly more qualifications than many Trump appointees. But Cruz was also critical of Trump after losing the 2016 Republican nomination to him, so the administration may want someone who’s a bigger ally for the position.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Grassley would technically be in charge of helping appoint whoever the Trump administration nominates for Attorney General. Why not choose the guy who knows the most about these issues? The only issue is it would leave another open seat in the Senate, and Republicans may worry about losing another special election.
Technically, as soon as Sessions were to resign, Rosenstein would become acting head of the Department of Justice since he’s already the Deputy Attorney General. As the number two in the Department, he’d be an obvious candidate to take over full-time. But considering Rosenstein’s the one who actually ordered the special prosecutor for the Russian election investigation, we’re guessing Trump would not support him.
You’ve probably never heard of Kris Kobach, for good reason. The Kansas Secretary of State is most known for instituting several anti-immigration policies while in office. Kobach was reportedly a candidate to be Attorney General in 2016, which people thought was absurd, but frankly in line with what we know about the Trump administration. It’s hard to imagine he’d actually get through the confirmation process, but we’re guessing Trump wouldn’t be opposed to it.
The former Republican congressman did not run for re-election this year because he wants to return to the justice system where he began his career. He was considered a candidate for Attorney General after the 2016 election, and he’s defended Trump in the media. However, he also helped write the controversial “Nunes” memo that contained lies and falsehoods to discredit the election meddling investigation, so Democrats may not allow his confirmation.
The former Florida Attorney General was another candidate that was considered in 2016, but ultimately lost out to Sessions. Bondi supported Trump in the Republican primary in 2016, so she’d definitely be an ally for the administration. However, she’s also been involved in allegations of campaign contribution violations related to a donation she received from a Trump-related PAC. Democrats would probably use that against her.
Of course, if Trump actually wanted to pick a candidate who would be fair and balanced, and not just act like a lackey, he could pick someone like James Comey. But let’s face it, that’s never going to happen.