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 FeinsteinF-35 fighter jets may fall behind adversaries, House committee warns Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing 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 (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE announced on Wednesday that he was ousting Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program 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 RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE who was put in charge of the investigation after Sessions recused himself.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week Stefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' MORE (Calif.) immediately called on Whitaker to recuse himself. They were quickly backed up by other Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyWoman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh MORE (R-Iowa), the committee's chairman, to force Whitaker to appear.