Schumer calls for investigation of Whitaker's contacts with White House

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (N.Y.) is calling for an investigation into private conversations acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker had with the White House about special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE's campaign and Russia.

Citing recent media reports, Schumer says there’s a risk that Whitaker, who previously served as former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAnd the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin The Memo: Mueller's depictions will fuel Trump angst Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump MORE’s chief of staff before taking his job after Election Day, may have tried to interfere in Mueller’s probe.

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“I am particularly concerned about whether Mr. Whitaker may have shared with the White House, or could share in his new role, confidential grand jury or investigative information from the Special Counsel investigation or any criminal investigation,” Schumer wrote in a letter Tuesday to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Schumer cited a report published by Vox earlier this month that revealed Whitaker frequently spoke by phone with Trump and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE.

He also noted a New York Times report from Nov. 7 stating that Whitaker was seen by Justice Department officials as a partisan and a White House spy.

Schumer urged the inspector general to investigate whether Whitaker may have shared with the president or senior White House advisers confidential grand jury or investigative information from Mueller’s team.

“Unauthorized disclosure of such information—and especially to a target or subject in the investigation—may implicate criminal contempt of court, obstruction of justice, or the Department of Justice’s long-standing policy regarding contacts with the White House related to criminal investigations or cases,” Schumer wrote.

The Vox report, written by veteran journalist Murray Waas, revealed that Whitaker, while he was serving as chief of staff to Sessions, was counseling the White House on how the president might pressure Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinEx-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' Mueller questioned by TV journalist over details of report Cummings: Barr acting like 'defense counsel' for Trump rather than AG MORE to direct the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s enemies.

Trump in May asked the department to open a criminal probe into whether the FBI “infiltrated” his 2016 presidential campaign.

Schumer has asked the inspector general to find out what communications Whitaker had with the White House as Sessions's chief of staff and what issues were discussed.

He also wants to know whether Whitaker provided any assurances to Trump or senior White House officials about what steps he might take to interfere or obstruct Mueller’s investigation.