Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation

Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell, Flake clash over protecting Mueller probe Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails Senators introduce bill to respond to Khashoggi killing 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks 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 labels Schiff ‘little Adam Schitt’ Top House Oversight Dem says he will do ‘anything and everything’ to make Mueller’s findings public Watchdog group demands release of Whitaker's financial disclosures 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 RosensteinMueller could turn easy Trump answers into difficult situation Attorneys want Supreme Court to determine legality of Whitaker as acting AG Top Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' 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 McConnellJim Carrey on potentially losing fans over his anti-Trump Twitter art: 'Lose them' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Graham urges GOP leadership to bring vote on criminal justice reform 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."