Kremlin declines to weigh in on Sessions' exit

FILE - In this July 16, 2018 file photo Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, looks over towards U.S. President Donald Trump, left, as Trump speaks during their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Jeff Sessions' departure as attorney general (all times local):

7:05 a.m.

The Kremlin has called the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election a "headache" for U.S. authorities but has declined to comment on the departure of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments Thursday after Sessions handed in his resignation. Sessions' departure has potentially ominous implications for special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe given that the new acting attorney general has questioned the inquiry's scope.

Peskov says Sessions' departure isn't something for the Kremlin to weigh in on.

Peskov says the inquiry is "a headache for our American counterparts — it has nothing to do with us." He argues Mueller's team hasn't "managed to produce anything that can withstand serious criticism."

Mueller's team has obtained several guilty pleas and a jury conviction and has indictments pending against Russian companies.

12:25 a.m.

Jeff Sessions' departure as attorney general is raising questions about the fate of the special counsel's Russia probe.

President Donald Trump asked for Sessions' resignation and then replaced the former Alabama senator with Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker.

Whitaker is a former U.S. attorney from Iowa who founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists. He has questioned the Russia probe's scope and spoken publicly before joining the Justice Department about ways an attorney general could theoretically stymie the investigation.

Congressional Democrats have already called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation. So far that has been the job of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.

The ongoing investigation has produced guilty pleas from four former Trump aides.

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