Schiff: ‘Abundantly clear’ Sessions was forced out for not ending Mueller probe

Schiff: ‘Abundantly clear’ Sessions was forced out for not ending Mueller probe
© PBS News

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Trump appeals order siding with House Democrats bank subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.) argued Wednesday that outgoing Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Amash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 'Persuadable' voters are key to the 2020 election — and the non-screaming news industry MORE submitted his resignation because he failed to end special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE's investigation.

Schiff, who is poised to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee after Democrats won the House in the midterms on Tuesday, added in a statement that Sessions's ouster places Mueller's probe into Russian election interference in "new and immediate peril."

ADVERTISEMENT

"It is abundantly clear that Sessions was forced out for following the advice of ethics lawyers at the Department of Justice and recusing himself from the Russia probe, and for failing to bring about an end to an investigation that has produced multiple indictments and convictions and may implicate the President or others around him," Schiff said.

The statement from Schiff came just hours after Sessions issued his resignation at President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE's request. Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, would take over as acting attorney general.

The decision means that Whitaker, who has been publicly critical of certain elements of Mueller's probe, will oversee the investigation. 

“Whitaker, who the President announced will serve as Acting Attorney General, has been publicly critical of Special Counsel Mueller and has argued, without legal basis, that the Special Counsel is prohibited from investigating the President’s finances even if they are relevant to the Russia probe," Schiff said. "In fact, this may be precisely why the President has chosen to put Whitaker in this role."

Schiff concluded by saying that any interference in Mueller's probe would "cause a constitutional crisis." 

Multiple Democratic lawmakers echoed Schiff's remarks in the hours following Sessions' ouster. Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.), who is set to become the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said that Americans "must have answers immediately" on why Sessions resigned. 

The congressman also said Tuesday night that Trump was about to learn "that he’s not above the law."

Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's probe a "witch hunt," and on Wednesday said he could fire everybody with ties to if if he wanted. But he added that he would not do that for political reasons.