Feinstein: Acting AG must pledge to Senate he won't interfere with Mueller

Feinstein: Acting AG must pledge to Senate he won't interfere with Mueller
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel Feinstein5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony Grandson's note to Barr during confirmation hearing goes viral Barr hearing marks first time Senate Judiciary has GOP women serving on panel MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker must testify before the Judiciary Committee and pledge that he will not interfere with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation.

“Whitaker should come before the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as possible and make a firm commitment not to interfere in the investigation, to include restricting the investigation or making changes in personnel," Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE announced on Wednesday that he was ousting 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 and that Whitaker, his chief of staff, would fill the role in an acting capacity.

But Whitaker's ascendence immediately set off alarm bells among congressional Democrats. He's previously criticized the Muller investigation, including warning in a 2017 op-ed that Mueller was "dangerously close to crossing" a line if he looked into the Trump family's finances.

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The Justice Department confirmed Wednesday that Whitaker will oversee the Russia probe, taking over for 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 who was put in charge of the investigation after Sessions recused himself.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight 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 Hoyer introducing legislation to block Trump from lifting sanctions on Russian companies MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (Calif.) immediately called on Whitaker to recuse himself. They were quickly backed up by other Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony Booker presses Barr on impact of mass incarceration on black Americans Barr: I wouldn't go after businesses relying on Obama-era marijuana policy MORE (D-N.J.), who is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein added on Wednesday that an individual who hasn't been confirmed by the Senate should not be able to oversee the Russia investigation.

“Rod Rosenstein has been capably overseeing Robert Mueller’s work and should continue in that role. No one who lacks Senate confirmation should be placed in charge of this investigation, especially Matthew Whitaker who publicly criticized Robert Mueller’s work just last year," she said.

Feinstein didn't specify in her statement if she believes Whitaker should appear before the committee in a public or closed-door setting. But because Democrats are in the minority they would need the support of Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Five things to watch during Barr’s confirmation hearing McConnell rebukes Steve King over white nationalist comments MORE (R-Iowa), the committee's chairman, to force Whitaker to appear.