Protesters across US seek to protect Russia investigation

Protesters across US seek to protect Russia investigation

Kerry Wise
November 13, 2018

And over the previous year, Whitaker has told friends about his growing relationship with Trump.

Speaking to reporters at the White House before he left on a trip to Paris, Trump defended his choice of Whitaker, saying the former US attorney for the southern district of Iowa had an excellent reputation and came highly recommended by former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is now Trump's ambassador to China. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions and was always extremely highly thought of and he still is.

Gonzales, who was the attorney general in George W. Bush's administration from 2005 to 2007, said he doesn't know Whitaker, his qualifications or motivations, but there's a lot that calls into question his appointment.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee starting in January, said in a statement that the forcing out of Sessions fit a pattern of Trump interfering in the work of the Justice Department and Mueller.

Trump has said that he'll nominate someone to replace Whitaker permanently and who'll be subject to a confirmation hearing and vote in the Senate.

The timing of the firing in conjunction with the surprise Whitaker appointment smacks of a hinted high-level political coup not seen here since the notorious Saturday Night Massacre of 1974, when President Richard Nixon sought to shut off the Justice Department investigation into the Watergate scandal. Likewise, as Chief, I did not know Mr. Whitaker except primarily as he traveled with A.G. Sessions.

Some Democrats quickly demanded that Whitaker, as well, should recuse himself from supervising Mueller, as Sessions did. Although a Florida ethics panel cleared Bondi of wrongdoing a year ago, her acceptance of the donation came under scrutiny because her office was at the time investigating Trump University for alleged fraud.

Whitaker was appointed under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a 1998 law that allows the president to appoint any senior official as acting head of an agency for up to 210 days.

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Democrats have criticized Whitaker for comments he has made in the past that were critical of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and have called for legislation to protect Mueller. A principal officer reports directly to the president and no other, and an inferior officer reports to someone other than the president. But Mueller's post, special counsel, doesn't require Senate confirmation.

"I'm extremely troubled that a change may have been made here to stop an investigation, which by all accounts is nearly complete", he said. Their chants said "Hey hey, ho ho, Whitaker has got to go", or "This is what democracy looks like".

US intelligence agencies have said Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election in an attempt to tip it towards Trump and away from his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

McConnell, separately, said, "I think this will be a very interim AG". Donald Trump himself seems to be aware of the consequences, saying at a press conference on Wednesday: "I don't want to stop it because politically I don't want to stop it".

About 400 convened Thursday along the Riverwalk in Naperville to rally in support of the continuation of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Flake, R-Ariz., said he and Coons, D-Del., will address the bill next week when the Senate convenes. That would include specifying that only a Senate-confirmed Justice Department official - which Whitaker is not - could dismiss Mueller.

The online protest organized through MoveOn was titled Nobody Is Above the Law, demanding Whitaker "immediately cease supervision of the investigation".