Whitaker recusal from Mueller probe appears unlikely

Whitaker recusal from Mueller probe appears unlikely

The former Republican senator was active in the Trump campaign and had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the US.

Democrats warned against interference in the probe. Whitaker has spoken critically about the Mueller probe and spoke in a TV interview about choking off its funding.

The New York Times reported in September that the Trump administration was prepared to name Whitaker as the No. 2 at the Justice Department should Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resign.

Nancy Pelosi, who leads Democrats in the House of Representatives, called the decision a "blatant attempt" to end or impede the investigation. Matthew Whitaker is now acting attorney general, and he's now in position to oversee the Russian Federation investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

- How can the probe proceed?

"He's political to his core", a friend said of Whitaker. He added that it had "been a privilege" to work under Sessions.

Despite Trump's criticism of the probe as a "witch-hunt", Sessions and Rosenstein both defended Mueller's integrity.

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Whitaker can serve 210 days without Senate confirmation before the president nominates a permanent attorney general.

"Mr. Whitaker's installation makes a mockery of our Constitution and our founders" ideals, ' the men wrote.

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Counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway, is interviewed on television at the White House's North Lawn in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Whitaker's past comments saying that special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia Probe may have gone too far has been front and center in the reaction to this news.

That investigation is now being lead by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and has overseen the probe's work. "This is a break-the-glass moment", he said. Chuck Grassley, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Answering allegations that the White House had used a clip edited by a notorious right-wing conspiracy theorist, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: "We stand by our statement".

Trump had been widely expected to fire Sessions after Tuesday's midterm elections.

"The rule of law is disappearing before our eyes", tweeted Sally Yates, a deputy attorney general under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama and briefly in the top job under Trump before he sacked her. Justice Department officials said his taking over for his boss was, at the very least, "awkward", because chiefs of staff typically leave with the attorney general. And he's one step closer to being able to do just that.

Overseeing it all is Whitaker, a former college football player and United States attorney from Iowa who was brought into the Justice Department previous year to serve as Sessions' chief of staff. "I'm not recused, you're not recused", Conway told reporters.

The counselor to the president went on to give credit to Sessions for his work at the Department of Justice, including cracking down on opioid abuse as well as the MS-13 gang. He has previously suggested drastically reducing the budget of Mueller's special counsel probe, in order to thwart Mueller's threat to the president's constitutional mandate. There have been indictments of 34 individuals and three companies, eight guilty pleas and one trial conviction.

One reason Sessions endured months of taunting from Trump is that he believed he was protecting the integrity of the Justice Department and was trying to prevent the president from bringing in someone who would politicize it, according to a US official who has worked with Sessions and frequently talked with him. Another person said that remained true ever after Whitaker took his place.

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