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CBS News: Chris Christie On Short List To Replace Jeff Sessions As Attorney General

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TRENTON (CBS/AP) -- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is on the short list to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general and is at the White House on Thursday for a meeting, CBS News reports.

President Donald Trump is also considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, outgoing Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Attorney General William Barr, who served under President George H.W. Bush, according to CBS News.

Christie endorsed Trump after dropping out of the 2016 presidential race and ran Trump's transition process team before the president took office.

Christie also served as a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey from 2002 to 2008 prior to becoming governor.

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Outgoing Evesham Mayor Randy Brown says it's no surprise Christie is on a list to replace Sessions.

"Obviously, I've had communications with him since he left the governorship, and I know that this is almost a perfect position," said Brown. "If there was a position in government to me where Chris Christie would fit best, it wouldn't be chief of staff, it would be attorney general of the United States."

Brown says, despite Christie's reputation for being tough, or as some would say brash, he was also a leader who worked across party lines, reaching milestone compromises with Democrats on pension reform and transportation funding.

"You got to be able to take an issue and see all sides of it and Gov. Christie has done a great job," said Brown.

Sessions was pushed out Wednesday after enduring more than a year of blistering and personal attacks from Trump.

The resignation, in a one-page letter to Trump, came one day after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives and was the first of several expected post-midterms Cabinet and White House departures. Though Sessions was an early and prominent campaign backer of Trump, his departure letter lacked effusive praise for the president and made clear the resignation came "at your request."

"Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as attorney general of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Justice every day determined to do my duty and serve my country," Sessions wrote.

The departure was the culmination of a toxic relationship that frayed just weeks into Sessions' tenure, when he stepped aside from the Russia investigation because of his campaign advocacy and following the revelation that he had met twice in 2016 with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Trump's relentless attacks on Sessions came even though the Alabama Republican was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump and despite the fact his crime-fighting agenda and priorities, particularly his hawkish immigration enforcement policies, largely mirrored the president's.

He found satisfaction in being able to reverse Obama-era policies that conservatives say flouted the will of Congress, encouraging prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges they could and promoting more aggressive enforcement of federal marijuana law.

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He also announced media leak crackdowns and tougher policies against opioids, and his Justice Department defended a since-abandoned administration policy that resulted in migrant parents being separated from their children at the border.

But the relationship was irreparably damaged in March 2017 when Sessions, acknowledging previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador and citing his work as a campaign aide, recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Trump repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse himself. The recusal left the investigation in the hands of Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller two months later after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

In piercing attacks, Trump called Sessions weak and beleaguered, complained that he wasn't more aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and called it "disgraceful" that Sessions wasn't more serious in scrutinizing the origins of the Russia investigation for possible law enforcement bias — even though the attorney general did ask the Justice Department's inspector general to examine those claims.

The broadsides escalated in recent months, with Trump telling an interviewer that Sessions "never had control" of the Justice Department.

Sessions endured most of the name-calling in silence, though he did issue two public statements defending the department, including one in which he said he would serve "with integrity and honor" for as long as he was in the job.

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Sessions, who likely suspected his ouster was imminent, was spotted by reporters giving some of his grandchildren a tour of the White House over the weekend. He did not respond when asked why he was there.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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