House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiMidterms: The winners and losers Ryan on midterms: ‘Tonight history has repeated itself’ Election fallout: What to watch for now MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from “any involvement” in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE‘s Russia probe, which Whitaker has previously criticized.
“It is impossible to read Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions’ firing as anything other than another blatant attempt by [President TrumpDonald John TrumpMidterms: The winners and losers GOP Rep. Mike Bost wins reelection in Illinois Sisolak becomes first Dem to win Nevada governor race since 1994 MORE] to undermine & end Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Pelosi wrote in a tweet.
Given his record of threats to undermine & weaken the Russia investigation, Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from any involvement in Mueller’s investigation. Congress must take immediate action to protect the rule of law and integrity of the investigation. #FollowTheFacts
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 7, 2018
The appointment of Whitaker and the ouster of Sessions has elicited concerns among Democrats that Trump is taking steps to limit or shut down Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible coordination with his team.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe numbers don’t lie: Working Americans are better off under GOP Trump calls Gillum ‘not equipped’ to be Florida governor McSally accuses Arizona media of ‘protecting’ Dem opponent Sinema MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday also called for Whitaker to recuse himself from involvement in Mueller’s probe.
The Department of Justice, however, confirmed Wednesday that Whitaker will take over for Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinElection fallout: What to watch for now The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump, Obama battle for the Senate The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Final stretch to the midterms amid backdrop of violence MORE in overseeing the investigation. Whitaker was named acting attorney general on Wednesday when Trump fired Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation over his role in the Trump campaign.
Whitaker has previously criticized the idea of Mueller’s investigation and has suggested that funding for it should be slashed.
In an op-ed for The Hill published last year before Mueller was appointed, Whitaker wrote that calls for an independent counsel to investigate Russian interference “ring hollow.”
“Serious, bipartisan congressional investigations into the Russian allegations have been under way for weeks and they have made progress,” he wrote. “Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way.”
And, in a CNN op-ed also from last year, he said that Mueller was close to crossing a “red line” by investigating Trump’s finances. He suggested that Rosenstein “should order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation.”
Whitaker also raised the possibility that a replacement for Sessions could reduce Mueller’s funding to the point that the investigation came to “almost a halt.”
“I could see a scenario where Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsElection fallout: What to watch for now The Hill’s Morning Report — Judgment Day: New data suggest big Dem gains in House, governors’ races Election Countdown: Trump frames midterm as referendum on presidency | Senate seats most likely to flip | Huge turnout raises Dem hopes | Controversy over Trump ad | Weather forecast has storm headed to key states | DOJ to monitor voting in 19 states MORE is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt,” he said on CNN.
In July 2017, Trump’s new acting Attorney General, Mathew Whitaker talked about possibly defunding the Mueller investigation pic.twitter.com/aZHP1K00rx
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) November 7, 2018