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 FeinsteinTop Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' Congress needs to wake up to nuclear security threat Democrats in murky legal water with Whitaker lawsuits 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 TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE announced on Wednesday that he was ousting Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Graham: Trump’s new AG has ‘concerns’ about criminal justice bill Kentucky shooting suspect charged with federal hate crimes 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 RosensteinTop Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' Judge upholds Mueller indictment against Russian troll farm Over 1,600 lawyers sign letter saying Mueller probe must be protected MORE who was put in charge of the investigation after Sessions recused himself.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFacebook reeling after damning NYT report Schumer warns Trump to stay out of government funding negotiations Schumer predicts Nelson will 'continue being senator' if 'every vote counted' MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDem lawmaker: 'There's plenty of competent females' that can be Speaker instead of Pelosi Marcia Fudge under spotlight as Pelosi Speaker fight heats up Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP MORE (Calif.) immediately called on Whitaker to recuse himself. They were quickly backed up by other Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP 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 GrassleySenators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Congress should ban life without parole sentences for children  Grassley: McConnell owes me for judicial nominations MORE (R-Iowa), the committee's chairman, to force Whitaker to appear.