In the aftermath of President Trump’s firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, Vanity Fair is reporting that many more White House exits could be planned for the near future, including a plot to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with Scott Pruitt, who is currently the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. This has led to speculation among some, including conservative editor of the Weekly Standard Bill Kristol, that Trump’s ultimate goal is to use Pruitt, who is not rescued from the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation, to fire Robert Mueller and put an end to the inquiry into whether Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
According to Vanity Fair, the president feels emboldened of late to throw off his shackles and follow his impulses rather than the counsel of aides like White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. In addition to the plan involving Sessions and Pruitt, Trump is said to be thinking about firing National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and replacing him with John Bolton, as well as finding a way for both his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner to exit the White House and return to private life.
According to an article in Business Insider, Sessions has been on Trump’s chopping block ever since he recused himself from the Russia investigation in early 2017. Trump has not been shy about attacking his Attorney General, both in private and in public, tweeting that he thought Sessions was “beleaguered” and “weak” this past summer. Trump was also angry that Sessions was slow to fire deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and has said that if he had known Sessions was going to recuse himself he would have never given him the job in the first place.
Vanity Fair‘s reporting has led to a lot of speculation about Trump’s ultimate motives and the future of the Robert Mueller investigation. It was earlier reported by the New York Times that Trump had first ordered Mueller fired back in June of 2017 but had to back down when one of his top lawyers, Don McGahn, threatened to quit over it. Trump has made no secret of his dislike of the investigation, frequently calling it a “witch hunt” and tweeting on more than one occasion that there was “no collusion” between the Russians and any member of his campaign.
No less an august figure than conservative stalwart Bill Kristol tweeted on Wednesday of rumors he had heard about who the ultimate target of Trump’s plan really was.
Pruitt would need to be confirmed by the Senate before taking over as Attorney General but is likely to have a relatively easy time since he has already been confirmed for a cabinet position.