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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 SchumerSunday shows preview: Trump taps acting attorney general to lead Justice Department Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Pelosi: Acting attorney general 'should not be there' 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 TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE announced Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report Acting AG will meet with DOJ ethics officials to discuss possible recusal: reports Swalwell calls acting AG an 'assassin' hired to 'take out' Mueller probe 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 RosensteinDem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself How Trump can pull off ultimate trick to make Mueller disappear Dems race to protect Mueller probe 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 MerkleyICE has record number of people in custody: report Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress White House-Acosta feud is talk of town 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.