Dem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself
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 SessionsWill Trump be partisan brawler or smart dealmaker with Congress? Sunday shows preview: Trump taps acting attorney general to lead Justice Department How Trump can pull off ultimate trick to make Mueller disappear 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 Jay RosensteinHow Trump can pull off ultimate trick to make Mueller disappear Dems race to protect Mueller probe Pelosi: Whitaker’s appointment to acting AG ‘does violence to the Constitution’ MORE.
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