President Donald Trump named Whitaker, chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Session, as Acting Attorney General Wednesday after ousting Sessions, whom he had repeatedly pressured to use his position to interfere into the Mueller probe. After Sessions’ own recusal, the probe has indicted 35 people, according to a summary by Vox, including four former Trump advisers and 26 Russian nationals, with six, including all four former Trump aides, pleading guilty.
“Republicans must join Democrats in protecting the Mueller investigation from political interference. The special counsel probe has already led to 100 criminal counts against more than 30 individuals and three companies, and resulted in eight convictions,” Reed said in a statement Wednesday.
“Americans of all political stripes should want a justice system that is fair, not one that can be rigged to benefit those in power.
“The acting Attorney General must recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel probe. If Mr. Whitaker fails to recuse himself, it will be a sure sign that he will put partisanship ahead of fidelity to the Constitution.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse also urged Whitaker to hold himself above political considerations while supervising Mueller’s investigation.
“Both the acting attorney general and the president’s next nominee must commit to protecting the special counsel and his investigation. Jeff Sessions’s departure must not be a prelude to sabotage of the Mueller investigation—obstruction from within,” Whitehouse said.
“It is also important for the next attorney general to uphold civil rights and voter protections, and commit to reforming our criminal justice system. The Justice Department ought to reclaim its leadership in those areas.”
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-Dist. 2) joined the call for Whitaker to protect the neutrality of the investigation.
“With the firing of Jeff Sessions, it is vital that the acting Attorney General – and whomever the President subsequently nominates to run the Justice Department –ensure the #Mueller investigation is permitted to continue without political interference,” Langevin wrote on his Twitter feed.
Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-Dist. 1) also called for Whitaker to protect the independence of the Justice Department.
“The next Attorney General needs to be a strong, independent prosecutor who can stand up to this President, not shelter him from oversight and enable his worst impulses. The Department of Justice exists for the purpose of upholding the Constitution and the laws of our country. It’s not an office created to protect the President of the United States from the consequences of his actions.”
“Congress must put loyalty to the truth, justice, and the Constitution ahead of personal loyalty to the President. We need bipartisan action to affirm the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the American constitutional order,” Reed said.