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Democrats warn against Mueller probe interference after Sessions' firing

Democratic congressional leaders reacted to the news of ...

Posted: Nov 8, 2018 6:59 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2018 6:59 AM

Democratic congressional leaders reacted to the news of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' firing on Wednesday by warning that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential Russia collusion must be safeguarded from interference.

They also called for the new acting attorney general, who has been openly critical of Mueller and the investigation, to recuse himself from oversight of the inquiry.

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House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said on Twitter, "It is impossible to read Attorney General Sessions' firing as anything other than another blatant attempt" by President Donald Trump "to undermine" and "end" the Mueller probe.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said at a news conference in Washington that "protecting Mueller and his investigation is paramount" and it "would create a constitutional crisis if this were a prelude to ending or greatly limiting the Mueller investigation."

Both called for the recusal of Matthew Whitaker, who Trump announced on Twitter will become the new acting attorney general.

Whitaker, who was Sessions' chief of staff, is expected to take charge of the Russia investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Whitaker argued in a CNN op-ed last year that Mueller was "dangerously close to crossing" a red line following reports that the special counsel could be examining financial records tied to the Trump Organization. In the same op-ed, Whitaker called for the investigation to be limited in its scope.

"It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel," he wrote. "If he doesn't, then Mueller's investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition."

In a statement released after his news conference Wednesday, Schumer also called on Whitaker to recuse himself from oversight of the investigation.

"Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general," Schumer said in the statement.

Pelosi made a similar statement on Twitter, saying, "Given his record of threats to undermine & weaken the Russia investigation, Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from any involvement in Mueller's investigation. Congress must take immediate action to protect the rule of law and integrity of the investigation. #FollowTheFacts."

Sessions resigned his position as attorney general in a letter to the President, writing, "At your request, I am submitting my resignation."

Mueller is investigating potential links or coordination between Trump's 2016 campaign associates and the Russian government. The President has consistently denied that there was any collusion and has attacked the inquiry as a "witch hunt."

A senior GOP congressional aide reaffirmed the previous position for GOP leadership that Trump should not fire Mueller.

"He would be playing with fire," the aide said.

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who is poised to become the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of Congress, said in a statement that "The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions fits a clear pattern of interference from President Donald Trump in the work of the Department of Justice and the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller."

He added, "We are immediately issuing multiple letters to key officials demanding that they preserve all relevant documents related to this action to make sure that the investigation and any evidence remains safe from improper interference or destruction."

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who is expected to take over the gavel on the House Intelligence Committee, vowed that Democrats will "protect the rule of law."

"President Trump just removed Jeff Sessions. He wants an Attorney General to serve his interest, not the public," Schiff tweeted. "Mueller's investigation and the independence of the DOJ must be protected. Whitaker and any nominee must commit to doing both. We will protect the rule of law."

Schumer said at his news conference that he hopes "if there is a constitutional crisis that our Republican colleagues would join us in thwarting the President from creating that crisis."

The Senate Democratic leader said he finds the timing of Sessions' departure "very suspect." He went on to say, "Our paramount view is that any attorney general, whether this one or another one, should not be able to interfere with the Mueller investigation in any way. They should not be able to end it. They should not be able to limit it. They should not be able to interfere with Mueller going forward and doing what he thinks is the right thing."

This story has been updated.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
Rice403136
Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
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Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
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Martin111220
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Rock7569
Aitkin75529
Pipestone71018
Houston6854
Fillmore6770
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Murray5783
Swift5758
Faribault5422
Pope5281
Stevens5063
Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
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Wilkin3715
Unassigned36759
Lac qui Parle3613
Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
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Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
Traverse1461
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Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
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Monroe44312
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Monona4332
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