Dem senator requests hearing on whether Whitaker violated Hatch Act
© Greg Nash

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is requesting that the Senate Judiciary Committee hold a hearing on acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's "conflicts of interest," including if he violated a federal law on political activities. 

Blumenthal sent a letter on Monday to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties Congressional leaders unite to fight for better future for America's children and families MORE (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asking him to schedule an oversight hearing so Whitaker could testify under oath about potential Hatch Act violations and his previous criticism of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE's probe. 
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees in the executive branch from taking part in certain political activities.
"Our committee performs a critical oversight role over the Department of Justice. We are entitled to know whether the man leading it has conflicts of interest that impact his ability to do his job as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States with impartiality," Blumenthal wrote in the letter. 
Democrats have widely panned Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general, arguing it is a sign that Trump is paving the way to interfere in Mueller's investigation.
Blumenthal, in his letter Monday, argued that "troubling revelations" about Whitaker have surfaced since his appointment as acting attorney general that demand a congressional hearing. 
Blumenthal pointed to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings that show Whitaker received donations to his failed 2014 Senate campaign while he was serving as Sessions's chief of staff. The Office of Special Counsel told CNN last week that it was investigating whether Whitaker violated the Hatch Act. 
"These payments at the very least call into question Mr. Whitaker’s impartiality as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States," Blumenthal added. 
Blumenthal is part of a group of Senate Democrats who are challenging the appointment in court, arguing Trump violated the appointments clause. 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) asked for an investigation last week about talks Whitaker had with the White House about the Mueller investigation and Russia while Whitaker was serving as chief of staff to Sessions. Blumenthal on Monday warned that if Whitaker shared "confidential information" with the White House about "ongoing criminal investigations," that would violate Justice Department guidelines. 
"If the Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings concerning Mr. Whitaker’s nomination, these are exactly the kinds of questions we would have an opportunity to ask him publicly, on the record, under oath," Blumenthal added.