Senate

Schumer: Acting AG should recuse himself from Mueller probe

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller'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. 

His comments come after President Trump announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions 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 Rosenstein 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 Merkley (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. 

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