NYC Protesters Join Call for Acting AG to Leave Russia Probe Alone

Geneva Stokes
November 9, 2018

Protesters gathered Thursday in cities from NY to California in a warning to the White House not to derail Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Separately, House Judiciary Democrats called on Whitaker in a letter to recuse himself and keep the Mueller investigation under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a career Justice Department official who has given the special counsel full scope to pursue leads.

The demonstrations follow President Donald Trump's removal of Jeff Sessions as attorney general on Wednesday and his appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

Mueller, who has been negotiating with Trump's lawyers about interviewing the president, is expected to produce a written report for the Justice Department that explains the findings, though it's not clear how much will be public.

Trump "crossed a red line" in appointing Whitaker to oversee the Mueller probe, the group wrote on its website.

Casey tweeted Wednesday after news of Sessions' departure that Congress should take action to protect Mueller's investigation from interference.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately called on Whitaker to recuse himself from the probe as his predecessor had, "given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations" on it.

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Mueller took over the Russia probe, which was launched in July 2016, under the mandate of investigating "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the [Trump] campaign", as well as "any other matters [that] arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

Critics worry Whitaker may be unlikely or unwilling to defend the investigation, given his history of partisanship and loyalty to Trump. He was ostensibly fired the day after the midterm elections by President Trump. He also ran for Iowa Senate unsuccessfully.

As Mueller has got closer to the heart of the Trump family's closely guarded financial secrets, the president has become more enraged. Two things. First, the Democrats were delighted to have an Attorney General who recused himself from all matters relating to the Trump presidential campaign, including but not limited to Russian Federation, broadly construed. "I could fire everybody right now, but I don't want to stop it because politically I don't like stopping it", Trump said at a stormy White House press conference that was even more tempestuous than the standard he has set.

"Sessions did not do the thing he could have done to better protect Rosenstein, and through Rosenstein, the Mueller investigation", Vladeck said.

Trump's relationship with Sessions frayed just weeks into his tenure, when he stepped aside from the Russian Federation investigation.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT also criticized Whitaker's appointment.

On Thursday, the Acosta incident entered even more weird territory when the White House was accused of tweeting a video doctored to make the reporter appear more aggressive in fending off the female press aide who tried to remove his mic. Sessions reportedly resigned at the request of the president. "There is no mistaking what this means, and what is at stake: this is a constitutionally perilous moment for our country and for the president".

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