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 SchumerFacebook reeling after damning NYT report Schumer warns Trump to stay out of government funding negotiations Schumer predicts Nelson will 'continue being senator' if 'every vote counted' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE announced Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Graham: Trump’s new AG has ‘concerns’ about criminal justice bill Kentucky shooting suspect charged with federal hate crimes 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 Jay RosensteinTop Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' Judge upholds Mueller indictment against Russian troll farm Over 1,600 lawyers sign letter saying Mueller probe must be protected 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 MerkleyMerkley seeking to change Oregon law so he can run for president and Senate in 2020: report ICE has record number of people in custody: report Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress 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.