Multiple Democratic state attorneys general called on acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE>’s inquiry in light of past comments he made criticizing the Russia probe.
“You must be aware that your public comments criticizing Mr. Mueller’s investigation have been widely circulated. At various opportunities — in print, on television, and through social media — you have suggested cutting the Special Counsel’s budget or limiting his authority to follow lines of inquiry. As prosecutors and law enforcement officials committed to the rule of law, we believe that the independent Special Counsel must have the full authority to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any violations of federal law,” the attorneys general wrote in a joint letter, which came a day after the resignation of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Graham: Trump’s new AG has ‘concerns’ about criminal justice bill Kentucky shooting suspect charged with federal hate crimes MORE>.
“By all appearances, Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein has ably supervised the Special Counsel’s investigation from its outset. He should continue to do so, as Mr. Mueller’s work must proceed free from interference or supervision that would appear to many Americans to be biased,” they added.
The attorneys general for Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Rhode Island all signed on to the letter.
Congressional Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDem lawmaker: 'There's plenty of competent females' that can be Speaker instead of Pelosi Marcia Fudge under spotlight as Pelosi Speaker fight heats up Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP MORE> (Calif.) and Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFacebook reeling after damning NYT report Schumer warns Trump to stay out of government funding negotiations Schumer predicts Nelson will 'continue being senator' if 'every vote counted' MORE> (N.Y.) have also called for Whitaker to recuse himself, which he has declared he will not do.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller after Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice's (DOJ) probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE> appointed Whitaker as acting attorney general after dismissing Sessions Wednesday. Democrats were quick to express concern over whether Whitaker would limit or end the special counsel’s investigation, and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcCain would have said ‘enough’ to acrimony in midterms, says Cindy McCain Senate GOP discussing Mueller vote Trump rightly fears the Fed will smother the economy MORE> (R-Ariz.) said he would try to force a vote on legislation protecting Mueller.
Several comments Whitaker made in the past that were critical of the Mueller probe came to light following his appointment.
He wrote an op-ed for The Hill in May 2017 criticizing the idea of appointing a special counsel for the DOJ’s investigation.
“Serious, bipartisan congressional investigations into the Russian allegations have been under way for weeks and they have made progress. Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way,” he wrote.
Whitaker also wrote an op-ed for CNN last year in which he ripped Mueller’s reported inquiries into Trump’s personal finances and those of his family.
“It is time for [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel. If he doesn't, then Mueller's investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition. This would not only be out of character for a respected figure like Mueller, but also could be damaging to the President of the United States and his family — and by extension, to the country,” he wrote.
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