Thursday, 22 August, 2019

Fears for Russian Federation probe as Trump fires Jeff Sessions

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Chuck Schumer Timing of Sessions firing'suspect Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Chuck Schumer Timing of Sessions firing'suspect
Patty Aguilar | 12 November, 2018, 14:47

The attorneys general from OR and Washington have joined 16 of their Democratic colleagues in calling for Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into contacts between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation.

Just two days after being named acting attorney general, the former federal prosecutor and TV commentator faced questions over his ability to fairly supervise Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation, given Whitaker's proposal past year to starve Mueller of funding.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer went ballistic, saying that Whitaker should recuse himself from responsibility for the investigation for making this (legally correct) statement about it, and even said that limiting the Mueller investigation would trigger a "Constitutional crisis".

The New York Times said that Whitaker, who has temporarily replaced Jeff Sessions as the top USA law official after his forced resignation this week, had been on the radar of the Trump administration for some time.

The relationship developed as Whitaker began accompanying Sessions to White House meetings after Whitaker joined the DOJ from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a conservative ethics watchdog that has filed complaints against Democratic politicians.

Trump has repeatedly asserted that the Mueller investigation is no more than a "witch hunt" against him, in which the mainstream news media is a zealous collaborator and peddler of "fake news". Another Republican senator, Susan Collins of ME, said she was concerned by some of Whitaker's past comments and called for legislation that would place limits on his ability to fire special counsel Mueller.

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Whitaker, who served as chief of staff to Sessions, has expressed criticisms of the investigation on his and wrote an opinion piece for CNN titled. That would include specifying that only a Senate-confirmed Justice Department official, which Whitaker is not, could dismiss the special counsel.

"What a stupid question you asked", Trump shot back, adding: "I watch you a lot, and you ask a lot of stupid questions". The latest indication of his fury came Wednesday when he forced out his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whose recusal opened the door to Mueller's appointment.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday published an email revealing an FBI investigation into the company, World Patent Marketing Inc. "He's just trying to get publicity for himself". But he also called him "smart" and "respected". Charlottesville resident Claire Winter brought her homemade decorative candles featuring an image of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump, speaking to reporters Friday, stressed that Whitaker was serving as attorney general in an acting capacity. McConnell said he expects Whitaker to be "a very interim" appointee. A source close to Sessions says that neither the attorney general nor Trump thought it was a good idea for Sessions to be at the White House, so he sent surrogates.

But there has also been speculation Trump could try to kill or suppress the 18 month-old probe, pressing his view that Mueller leads a team staffed by Democrats operating under an illegal mandate.

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