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 SchumerGovernment shutdown impasse is a leveraging crisis Overnight Health Care: Dem chair meets Trump health chief on drug prices | Trump officials sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work rules | Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions We can’t tackle climate change if we ignore the main polluter — transportation 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

His comments come after President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Cardi B expresses solidarity with federal workers not getting paid MORE announced Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony AG pick Barr emphasizes independence from Trump Hillicon Valley: Trump AG pick signals new scrutiny on tech giants | Wireless providers in new privacy storm | SEC brings charges in agency hack | Facebook to invest 0M in local news 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 RosensteinLive coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report — No new negotiations as shutdown hits 25 days Democrat previews Mueller questions for Trump’s AG nominee 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 MerkleySenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest partial shutdown Democrats plan to jam up Senate over shutdown fight Press: White House not only for white males 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.