Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is expected to oversee the special counsel's investigation into potential coordination between the president's Republican campaign and Russian Federation now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned.
Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker, formerly the chief of staff to the attorney general at the Department of Justice, to be acting attorney general until he nominates and Congress confirms a permanent replacement for Sessions.
In piercing attacks, Trump called Sessions weak and beleaguered, complained that he wasn't more aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and called it "disgraceful" that Sessions wasn't more serious in scrutinizing the origins of the Russian Federation investigation for possible law enforcement bias - even though the attorney general did ask the Justice Department's inspector general to examine those claims.
Casey tweeted Wednesday after news of Sessions' departure that Congress should take action to protect Mueller's investigation from interference. Mitt Romney, who just won election to the U.S. Senate from Utah, also tweeted that the Mueller probe should be allowed to proceed "to its conclusion unimpeded".
"Because a reasonable person could question your impartiality in the matter, your recusal is necessary to maintain public trust in the integrity of the investigation and to protect the essential and longstanding independence of the Department you have been chosen to lead, on an acting basis", the letter addressed to Whitaker said.
Other speakers said Trump thought American voices would be silent after the midterm election and accused the president of attacking the rule of law.
What does this mean for the Mueller probe?
"Well I don't know why he'd be recused".
The special counsel's office upheld a long-standing Justice Department guideline that calls for discretion in taking legal or law enforcement measures within 60 days of an election in an effort to avoid the impression of attempting to sway voters. A 2014 press release announcing Whitaker's hiring said the pair became "great friends" during Clovis' US Senate bid that preceded his run for state treasurer.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway suggested on Thursday morning that the question of whether Whitaker will recuse himself is absurd. In an August 2017 op-ed for CNN, he argued that the scope should be narrowed only to direct interactions between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian Federation, and not include anything pertaining to Trump's business interests or finances.
In fact, Whitaker told CNN previous year that a future attorney general could limit Mueller by reducing the budget "so low that his investigations grinds to nearly a halt". At this point, the investigation has lasted almost a year and a half.
A website set up by MoveOn.org Political Action says Trump "crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation" Wednesday, when Sessions handed in his letter of resignation, reportedly at Trump's urging.
"For our democracy to work, no one - including the president - can be above the law", she said.