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Sessions resigns as attorney general

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WASHINGTON (AP) -(all times local):     

3:20 p.m.     

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee says he wants "answers immediately" after Jeff Sessions was forced out as attorney general by President Donald Trump.     

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."     

Trump has long expressed frustration with Sessions over his recusal from the Justice Department's Russia investigation. Democrats worry that firing Sessions is a path to removing special counsel Robert Mueller and trying to end the probe.     

Nadler says he wants to know why Trump is making the change and "who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller's investigation?"        

3:15 p.m.     

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says it is "paramount" that the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller be protected by President Donald Trump's new attorney general.     

Trump forced Jeff Sessions out as attorney general on Wednesday after the midterm elections. The president said Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, would replace him for now, with a permanent replacement coming later.     

Schumer says he finds the timing of Sessions' departure "very suspect." The New York Democrat says it would spark a "constitutional crisis" if Trump forced out Sessions as a "prelude" to ending or limiting Mueller's investigation.     

Trump and Sessions had a falling out after the attorney general recused himself from Mueller's investigation. The president has repeatedly belittled Sessions in public and expressed regret about appointing him.

2:45 p.m.     

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned as the country's chief law enforcement officer at President Donald Trump's request.     

Sessions announced his plan to resign in a letter to the White House on Wednesday.     

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 Trump over his recusal from the investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.     

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 Trump's hectoring of Sessions was part of a broader effort to obstruct justice.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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