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

Democratic state AGs call on Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller probe
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Multiple Democratic state attorneys general called on acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 SessionsTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' MORE.

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“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 PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (Calif.) and Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerA Biden stumble on China? First Black secretary of Senate sworn in Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote 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 TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm 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 FlakeFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' 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.