Democratic state AGs call on Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller probe

Democratic state AGs call on Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller probe
© Getty Images

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 SessionsMueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue Mueller delivers report to Justice, ending investigation Trump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 PelosiPelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe Coons after Russia probe: House Dems need to use power in 'focused and responsible way' Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings MORE (Calif.) and Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar 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 TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report 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 FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP 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.