Schumer: Acting AG should recuse himself from Mueller probe

Schumer: Acting AG should recuse himself from Mueller probe
© Anna Moneymaker

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE's investigation.

"Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general," Schumer said in a statement on Wednesday. 

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His comments come after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE announced Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWhite House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations The Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Sessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement MORE was leaving the top Justice Department spot and that Whitaker, his chief of staff, would take over the role in an acting capacity.

Sessions's dismissal sparked immediate concerns from Schumer and other Democrats that Trump could be laying the groundwork to attempt to limit or end Mueller's probe into potential collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Schumer, in a separate press conference with reporters, warned that attempts by Sessions's successor or Trump to interfere with the investigation would spark a "constitutional crisis."

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinDemocrats ask judge to force McGahn to comply with subpoena Democrats ask court to force DOJ's hand on Mueller grand jury materials Washington celebrates diplomacy — and baseball — at Meridian Ball MORE has been overseeing the Mueller investigation since Sessions recused himself from the investigation last year due of his involvement in Trump's campaign.

But the Justice Department told CBS News on Wednesday that Whitaker will now oversee the probe. 

Whitaker has previously criticized the Mueller investigation, including in a 2017 op-ed where he warned that it was "dangerously close to crossing" a line if it looked into the Trump family's finances.

"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," he added.

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Perry replacement faces Ukraine questions at hearing | Dem chair demands answers over land agency's relocation | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders unveil 0B Green New Deal public housing plan Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders unveil 0B Green New Deal public housing plan Senate committee advances budget reform plan MORE (D-Ore.) quickly echoed Schumer's demand for Whitaker to recuse himself.

"It’s clear that he has no interest in overseeing this investigation in a way that is fair, impartial, and follows the rule of law," he said in a tweet.