While Whitaker is now Mueller's ultimate supervisor, it was not immediately clear whether that meant Rosenstein would step aside. He also obtained indictments against Russian individuals and companies accused of a sweeping conspiracy to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and ultimately to help Trump win.
The switch, announced on Trump's Twitter feed, provoked consternation across Washington, where politicians from both sides of the aisle have long warned that political interference in Mueller's work can not be tolerated. Senator Susan Collins and Mitt Romney said it should not be impeded in any way. He replaced him- temporarily- with Mathew Whitaker, a loyalist who has criticized the Mueller investigation and wants to strangle it, and who is considered even more of a supplicant than Sessions, whose sycophancy in the face of Trump's fury and humiliating put-downs was not sufficient to save his job. Campaign efforts include ending the Iraq war and combatting gun violence by ending politicians' affiliation with the NRA, but since 2016 the organization says it has been "a pillar of the Resistance to Trump".
Democrats see this latest move as an attempt to do just that.
The forced resignation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general has caused profound leadership changes at the Justice Department, above all affecting oversight of the investigation into ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian Federation. It's a job he knows well given that Whitaker has spent the past year as Sessions' chief of staff. Tuesday's outcome effectively kickstarted the 2020 Presidential campaign in a country that is on a perpetual election cycle.
The sacking followed months of Mr Trump criticising Mr Sessions, mainly for his decision to step aside from the Russian Federation inquiry in March 2017.
President Donald Trump listens to a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington.
"At your request, I am submitting my resignation", Mr Sessions said in the first line of a letter released by the Department of Justice.
When asked whether Whitaker would now assume control over the Mueller investigation, U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Flores said Whitaker would be "in charge of all matters" under the purview of the department.
The president can not directly fire the special counsel.
Mr Whitaker expressed concerns over the investigation.
CNN reports that Christie is not believed to have met with the president Thursday. The recusal left the investigation in the hands of Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller two months later after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey.
Answering allegations that the White House had used a clip edited by a notorious right-wing conspiracy theorist, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: "We stand by our statement".