Attorney general Jeff Sessions has just submitted his official resignation, according to early reports from Washington. The resignation comes in response to a request from President Donald Trump, who allegedly made clear that he was going to fire Sessions.
Sessions is Out
According to CNN, Sessions formally submitted his resignation today to White House chief of staff John Kelly. But from the sounds of things, Sessions didn’t reach this decision all on his own. In fact, CNN reported that Trump “fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
This seems to be supported in Sessions’ letter, which reads in part: “At your request I am submitting my resignation.”
Sessions’ sudden departure means that there will need to be some shuffling around in the Department of Justice. And at this point, it appears that Sessions’ former chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will take over as acting attorney general.
So far, Trump has not spoken explicitly to the media about today’s changes. But, not surprisingly, he did take to Twitter.
“We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States,” Trump tweeted. “He will serve our Country well …We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”
Jeff Sessions: Racist and Outspoken Marijuana Opponent
Sessions is well known for his hyper-conservative, drug war hawk, white supremacist politics. In particular, he’s long waged a Reefer Madness-style anti-weed war, typically relying on racist myths to spread misinformation.
For example, he once said that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
Similarly, as attorney general, he often encouraged racist policing practices, many of which relied on deepening the war on drugs.
Most notably, in a speech to a group of law enforcement officials, he said: “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”
The comment was quickly condemned by critics. Many pointed out that the remarks were a not-too-subtle dogwhistle to white supremacists, effectively encouraging racist law enforcement practices.
Beyond all that, Sessions has a long track record of making outlandish claims about marijuana. Throughout 2018, he has attempted to blame the ongoing opioid crisis on the growing legalization of marijuana.
This narrative ignores recent research findings that suggest cannabis could actually be an effective way to wean people off of addictions to opioids and other dangerous drugs.
Additionally, Sessions repeatedly used his position as attorney general to hint at a possible federal crackdown on weed-legal states. Toward the beginning of 2018, he rescinded the Cole Memo, an Obama-era policy that directed federal law enforcement not to interfere with state laws regarding marijuana.
This sparked fear that the federal government could start going after marijuana businesses in states with legal cannabis.
Now it looks like any federal crackdown will have to be piloted by someone else. Unfortunately, given Trump’s equally racist and authoritarian worldview, it seems unlikely that Sessions’ replacement will be anything different.