Fears for Russian Federation probe as Trump fires Jeff Sessions

Janice Rogers Brown

Trump named Whitaker to the acting position on Wednesday after abruptly forcing out Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that Democrats could tie a measure to protect special counsel Robert Mueller to must-pass legislation should acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker not recuse himself from oversight of Mueller's Russian Federation probe.

The comments Friday from Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came as Whitaker's past business ties and remarks on Mueller's probe and other topics drew scrutiny from Democrats and ethics groups.

"We Democrats, House and Senate, will attempt to add to must-pass legislation, in this case the spending bill, legislation that would prevent Mr. Whitaker from interfering with the Mueller investigation".

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described Trump's appointment of Whitaker as "an attack" on the Mueller investigation and said protecting that probe will be his committee's top priority.

Whitaker has given no signs he plans to step back from the probe, saying he is "committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical standards, that upholds the rule of law, and seeks justice for all Americans".

Healey said in a tweet that a U.S. attorney general "must lead an empowered and independent Department of Justice".

Whitaker, a former United States attorney from Iowa and a Hawkeye, has been an outspoken critic of the probe.

In defense of Whitaker, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Sunday Whitaker made such comments as a "private citizen" and argued that the Mueller investigation, which has produced guilty pleas or verdicts from four former Trump aides, had generated more than a million pieces of paper and gone on too long. And The Daily Beast has reported the new acting attorney general made the rounds in right-wing media over the past two years claiming there was "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russian interests. Whitaker, unlike Sessions, has not recused himself from the investigation.

Mr. Sessions had recused himself from overseeing the probe because of his involvement with the Trump campaign.

However, with Republicans tightening their grip on the Senate, an initially magnanimous-sounding Trump suggested that a divided Congress would bring opportunity for bipartisan cooperation - something in low supply in Washington. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on ABC's This Week that Trump hasn't asked the acting AG to do so, and she doubts Trump would ask Whitaker not to interfere in the probe because that would just prolong it.

"Saturday Night Live" bid farewell to one of the show's best impressions since the beginning of the Trump administration: Kate McKinnon's Jeff Sessions.

"Our very first witness after January 3, we will subpoena, or we will summon, if necessary subpoena, Mr. Whitaker", Nadler said on "State of the Union". But you know what I do?

News of Mueller's team working up a final report is not entirely unexpected.

He also shared an article with the headline "Note to Trump's lawyer: Do not co-operate with Mueller lynch mob" on Twitter, adding himself that it was "worth a read".

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