Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation

Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal 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 TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity 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 SessionsOvernight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' Acting AG Whitaker's wife defends him in lengthy email to journalist Watchdog: Thousands more migrant children separated from parents than previously known 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 Rosenstein5 myths about William Barr William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress 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 McConnellDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Former House Republican: Trump will lose the presidency if he backs away from border security Pence quotes MLK in pitch for Trump's immigration proposal 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."