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Dem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself

Dem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself

Democratic leaders on Sunday sent a letter requesting a formal update from the Department of Justice's (DOJ) ethics office on whether President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE's new acting attorney general, Matt WhitakerMatthew G WhitakerEx-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ GOP pollster says Dems are relitigating 2016 election with investigations of Trump Former senior FBI official calls Whitaker hearing ‘disgraceful’ MORE, should recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's investigation.

The leaders, including prospective Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Inflation jumps at fastest pace since 2008 | Biden 'encouraged' on bipartisan infrastructure deal Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response Biden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.), in the letter asked the DOJ ethics office to review Whitaker's past statements on Mueller and issue a recommendation about his potential recusal.

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Democrats since Whitaker's appointment on Wednesday have accused Trump of attempting to undermine Mueller's investigation by installing a Trump loyalist and Mueller critic to oversee the probe. 

"There are serious ethical considerations that require Mr. Whitaker's immediate recusal from any involvement with the Special Counsel investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election," the Democratic leaders wrote in the letter.

Whitaker has publicly said the attorney general could curtail Mueller's efforts by limiting his funding and criticized the concept of a special counsel in the first place. He has stated definitively that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the subject of Mueller's investigation.

Whitaker also has ties to Sam Clovis, who served as a national co-chairman of Trump's 2016 campaign. 

After walking through Whitaker's possible ethics violations regarding Mueller, as well as his ties to a shady Miami business accused of committing fraud, the Democratic leaders asked the office to make public whether they have asked Whitaker to recuse himself.

"For these reasons, we request that you immediately notify us in writing regarding whether you, or any other ethics officials at the Justice Department, have advised Mr. Whitaker to recuse from supervision of the Special Counsel investigation, and the basis for that recommendation," the leaders wrote.

They also asked the watchdog to give them all of the ethics guidance they have provided to Whitaker so far.

Schumer over the weekend also pledged to tie a measure protecting Mueller to a piece of spending legislation that must pass Congress, according to The Associated Press

Pelosi last week said Whitaker's appointment to replace former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE "does violence to the Constitution." 

Trump tapped Whitaker to lead the Justice Department after Sessions announced that he was resigning at the president's request. Whitaker had served as Sessions’s chief of staff since September of last year.

He will take over supervision of Mueller's probe, replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinProtect the police or the First Amendment? Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office MORE.