Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer said Democrats might try to attach legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller to must-pass spending bills.
Mr. Schumer said President Trump’s recent appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general “should concern every American – Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative — who believes in rule of law and justice.”
“He’s already pre-judged the Mueller situation. If he stays there, he will create a constitutional crisis by inhibiting Mueller or firing Mueller, so Congress has to act,” the New York Democrat said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He said he and other Democrats have written a letter to the Justice Department’s chief ethics officer asking him to issue guidelines as to whether Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from anything involving Mr. Mueller.
“If that doesn’t happen, we Democrats – House and Senate – will attempt to add to must-pass legislation, in this case the spending bill, legislation that would prevent Mr. Whitaker from interfering with the Mueller investigation,” Mr. Schumer said. “That legislation has had bipartisan support.”
Much of the government is fully funded through next September, but Congress must pass new legislation by early December to keep open a handful of departments that are currently running on stopgap funding.
Last week, Mr. Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and installed Mr. Whitaker as acting attorney general. Mr. Whitaker has been publicly critical of the Mueller probe in the past.
Some critics, including George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, have also said such an appointment is invalid since the Senate didn’t confirm Mr. Whitaker.
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