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 FeinsteinFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Feinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report 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) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' 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 TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE announced on Wednesday that he was ousting Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds Five takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Amash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 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 RosensteinWhy Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill Jake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE who was put in charge of the investigation after Sessions recused himself.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi uses Trump to her advantage Fake Pelosi video sparks fears for campaigns Trump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk MORE (Calif.) immediately called on Whitaker to recuse himself. They were quickly backed up by other Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan 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 GrassleyTrump Citizenship and Immigration Services head out at agency Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access MORE (R-Iowa), the committee's chairman, to force Whitaker to appear.