DNC chair: Sessions ouster doesn't pass 'smell test'

DNC chair: Sessions ouster doesn't pass 'smell test'
© Getty

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE on Thursday said that Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr MORE’s ouster as attorney general “doesn’t pass the smell test,” arguing that both parties need to support special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s completion of the Russia investigation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE on Wednesday tapped Matthew Whitaker, Justice Department chief of staff, as acting attorney general, taking the reins from Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinGraham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation DOJ won't charge former FBI Deputy Director McCabe Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts MORE on oversight of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference in 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT

“What happened yesterday doesn’t past the smell test,” Perez told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C. He called Whitaker an “acknowledged partisan,” citing his past criticisms of the Mueller probe.

“What occurred yesterday is incredibly troubling at a minimum.”

The transition of power from Sessions to Whitaker prompted an immediate rebuke from Democrats, citing Whitaker’s open criticism of the Mueller probe.

Whitaker has written past op-eds, including for The Hill, where he claimed the investigation has gone “too far” and also previously called for Rosenstein to “limit the scope” of the probe.

Perez said Sessions’s ouster was “worse” than the 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre,” a reference to when former President Richard Nixon called on Watergate special prosecutor Archibold Cox to be fired. He called for the “independence and resources” needed for Mueller to complete his probe.

The DNC chairman said there should be a bipartisan support for allowing Mueller to do his job until the investigation’s conclusion. He cited Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Trump has 'all the legal authority in the world' to pardon Stone Overnight Defense: Pentagon policy chief resigns at Trump's request | Trump wishes official 'well in his future endeavors' | Armed Services chair warns against Africa drawdown after trip GOP chairman after Africa trip: US military drawdown would have 'real and lasting negative consequences' MORE’s (R-S.C.) past comments that there will be “holy hell to pay” if Trump ousts Mueller.

“This is going to be a test whether they’re going to live up to that,” Perez said about Republicans who have defended Mueller’s probe.

“I hope it’s not just Democrats calling to make sure the Mueller investigation proceeds. This isn’t about right versus left. This is about right versus wrong.”