Pelosi calls on acting AG to recuse himself from Russia probe

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP seeks to redirect criticism over Trump tax returns House rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Grassley says disclosing Trump's tax records without authorization could violate law MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from "any involvement" in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) 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 Russia probe, which Whitaker has previously criticized.

"It is impossible to read Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions’ firing as anything other than another blatant attempt by [President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE] to undermine & end Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation," Pelosi wrote in a tweet.

The appointment of Whitaker and the ouster of Sessions has elicited concerns among Democrats that Trump is taking steps to limit or shut down Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible coordination with his team.

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Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate Warren won't meet with Barrett, calling Trump's nomination an 'illegitimate power grab' Schumer won't meet with Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday also called for Whitaker to recuse himself from involvement in Mueller's probe.

The Department of Justice, however, confirmed Wednesday that Whitaker will take over for Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinMueller in rare statement pushes back on top aide's criticism of investigation This week: Senate kicks off Supreme Court fight DOJ kept investigators from completing probe of Trump ties to Russia: report MORE in overseeing the investigation. Whitaker was named acting attorney general on Wednesday when Trump fired Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation over his role in the Trump campaign.

Whitaker has previously criticized the idea of Mueller's investigation and has suggested that funding for it should be slashed.

In an op-ed for The Hill published last year before Mueller was appointed, Whitaker wrote that calls for an independent counsel to investigate Russian interference "ring hollow."

"Serious, bipartisan congressional investigations into the Russian allegations have been under way for weeks and they have made progress," he wrote. "Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way."

And, in a CNN op-ed also from last year, he said that Mueller was close to crossing a "red line" by investigating Trump's finances. He suggested that Rosenstein "should order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation."

Whitaker also raised the possibility that a replacement for Sessions could reduce Mueller's funding to the point that the investigation came to "almost a halt."

“I could see a scenario where Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRoy Moore sues Alabama over COVID-19 restrictions GOP set to release controversial Biden report Trump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs MORE is replaced with  a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt," he said on CNN.