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 SchiffHillicon Valley: YouTube disables 200+ accounts over Hong Kong misinformation | Lawmakers sound alarm over Chinese influence efforts | DHS cyber agency details priorities | State AGs get tough on robocalls | DOJ busts online scammers Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision YouTube disables over 200 accounts amid protests in Hong Kong MORE (D-Calif.) argued Wednesday that outgoing Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE submitted his resignation because he failed to end special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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."

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"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 TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative 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 NadlerPoll: Majority wants Trump out, but not through impeachment Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' 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.