Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation

Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE (R-Maine) on Friday renewed her call for the Senate to pass legislation that would protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, following news that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will oversee the Russian investigation.

“It is imperative that Special Counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation into Russian influence efforts during the 2016 elections," Collins said in a statement on Friday.

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The GOP senator, who has previously supported passing a bill to protect Mueller, added that she's concerned by comments Whitaker has made about the special counsel and the "parameters of his investigation."

“For these reasons, I believe that we should bring to the Senate floor legislation that would put restrictions on the ability of President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE to fire the Special Counsel," she said Friday. "Senate debate and passage of this bill would send a powerful message that Mr. Mueller must be able to complete his work unimpeded.”

Her comments come two days after Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March MORE resigned as attorney general at Trump's request. That same day, the president announced that Whitaker, Sessions's former chief of staff at the Justice Department, would serve as his acting replacement until an eventual nominee is confirmed.

Whitaker will have oversight of Mueller's investigation, a move that has drawn bipartisan scrutiny as a result of previous commentary from Whitaker. 

“Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing," Whitaker wrote in an op-ed for CNN in August 2017.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi(D-Calif.) have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia probe.

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinTrump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair MORE had been overseeing the Russia investigation since 2017. 

It remains unclear if he will step aside from helping with oversight, according to The Washington Post.

While Collins has said Mueller's probe should have certain legislative protections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight MORE (R-Ky.) said Friday that such legislation is not necessary.

"The Mueller investigation is not under threat," he said. "The president said repeatedly that he's not going to dismiss the Mueller investigation. He's said repeatedly it's going to be allowed to finish."