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Pelosi: Acting attorney general 'should not be there'

Pelosi: Acting attorney general 'should not be there'
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House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi Pelosi says she's giving Senate more time on Jan. 6 commission Ocasio-Cortez, Gillibrand and Moulton call for more high-speed rail funding in infrastructure package Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality MORE, who could be poised to retake the Speakership following the Democratic takeover of the House majority, slammed acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, saying Thursday he is unfit for the job. 

In an interview on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," the California Democrat said Whitaker's past comments disparaging special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's Russia probe are a clear sign that he shouldn't be overseeing the investigation, pointing out that he hasn't been been confirmed by the Senate.

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“I think that he has been outspoken in saying that he wanted to curtail the Mueller investigation... This is a perilously constitutional moment, I wouldn’t say a constitutional crisis just yet… should the president go after [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein or Mueller, it would be even worse. This is a very important moment,” Pelosi said. 

“The person should not be there because of the statement’s he’s made already,” she added.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (D-N.Y.) have already said that Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation into Moscow's election meddling and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. 

Whitaker declared Thursday he would not recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel.

President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE appointed Whitaker as acting attorney general after dismissing Jeff 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 FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would try to force a vote on legislation protecting Mueller.

Pelosi said Sessions's dismissal was intended to “to interfere with the Mueller investigation” and distract from Republicans' losing the House.

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 Department of Justice 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 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.

Pelosi said she feared that Trump and Whitaker would try to hinder the Mueller investigation and that preserving his documents is crucial should any action be taken against him.

“Our concern is that they will interfere and say that the president is above the law…We must preserve the documents, the preservation of the documents is essential,” she said.