Wednesday, 12 December, 2018


Protesters call for protection of Russian Federation probe after Sessions resigns

What will acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker mean for the Mueller inquiry? Trump forces out Jeff Sessions in midterm election fallout | News, Sports, Jobs
Bennie Garza | 09 November, 2018, 04:12

Whitaker, a former US attorney from Iowa who twice ran unsuccessfully for statewide office and founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists, once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe.

About six Congressional Democrats including Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden and Cory Booker stressed that Trump may be attempting to disrupt the Mueller investigation and called on Whitaker to recuse himself.

One associate, Jerome Corsi, said in a video recording Monday that he's "been involved in a really constant basis" for two months with Mueller's investigation. One was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, making it eligible for a full Senate vote.

Though long expected, Sessions' departure fueled Democratic fears that Trump may be maneuvering to assert control over the Mueller investigation through a trusted appointee or possibly shut down it all together.

Sessions in his resignation letter on Wednesday said he had resigned "at the request" of Trump.

"Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel's Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation", organizers said on a Facebook Event page for the protest.

CBS News has learned former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is being considered to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Asked whether Whitaker would assume control over Mueller's investigation, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores said Whitaker would be "in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice".

A personal connection to a Mueller witness is unlikely to sway Whitaker or the White House when it comes to recusal, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein supervised the probe despite being a witness himself.

"Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russian Federation 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing", Whitaker wrote in an op-ed a year ago before he came to work for the government.

One is simply by declining to continue to pay the investigators or attorneys working for the special counsel.

"Under Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, it is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded", he said on Twitter.

The decision infuriated Trump, who repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse.

Trump's relentless attacks on Sessions came even though the Alabama Republican was the first US senator to endorse Trump and despite the fact his crime-fighting agenda and priorities, particularly his hawkish immigration enforcement policies, largely mirrored the president's.

"It's very significant because Whitaker's position on indictments or future indictments may be different than Rosenstein's, and Rosenstein had given Mueller a broad mandate to pursue various crimes", said Washington criminal defense lawyer Jeffrey Jacobovitz. But Trump and his aides are concerned about Mueller's next move with the work that is complete, according to a White House official and a Republican with close ties to the administration. "He has no reason to recuse himself", Malcolm told VOA. Sessions, having been a part of Trump's campaign, was recused from the matter that involves many members of the president's inner circle.

His agenda unsettled liberals who said that Sessions' focus on tough prosecutions marked a return to failed drug war tactics that unduly hurt minorities and the poor, and that his rollbacks of protections for gay and transgender people amount to discrimination. The Justice Department, responding to a Washington Post report, soon acknowledged that Sessions had actually had two encounters during the campaign with the then-Russian ambassador.

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