Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Whitaker's friendship with Trump aide reignites recusal debate

Whitaker's friendship with Trump aide reignites recusal debate

Since then, Whitaker, who had been Sessions' chief of staff, has faced pressure from Democrats to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller, based on critical comments he made about the investigation before joining the Justice Department a year ago.

"Is Matthew Whitaker smart enough to know that he is going to have to testify under oath to the House Judiciary Committee about any interference that he might try to engage in with the Mueller investigation?"

Responsibility for the probe was then passed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a pointed letter to the president asking if he discussed the special counsel's probe with Whitaker prior to his appointment this week, and whether Trump sought or received a pledge of loyalty from Whitaker.

President Trump, en route to Paris for the Armistice Day celebration, told reporters he's never spoken with controversial Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Sessions for that decision, and the Attorney General's dismissal has been expected for a long time.

Trump does know Whitaker, and has spoken about the Russian Federation investigation with him. Whitaker very vocally believes otherwise.

Whitaker, 49, was Sessions' chief of staff since September 2017 and served as the US Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa from 2004 to 2009, CBS reported.

Mueller has tended to make major announcements over the Russian Federation probe on Fridays.

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Conway explained President Trump is not planning to use the resignation as a way to shut down the Mueller probe.

I think he'll do a very good job.

Last year, while serving as Sessions' chief of staff, Whitaker shared an article urging Trump's attorneys not to cooperate with the "Mueller lynch mob".

Critics worry Whitaker may be unlikely or unwilling to defend the investigation, given his history of partisanship and loyalty to Trump.

"We're protesting Trump installing a hack to obstruct Mueller's investigation".

McConnell, who sets the Senate's agenda, reiterated that legislation to protect Mueller from firing is unnecessary. On Wednesday, Trump fired the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and named Whitaker as his replacement at the justice department. "The president could and has in our nation's history said stop investigating this person or please investigate this other person". Whitaker's writings do not fall under that requirement in the White House's view, though by Thursday evening senior officials were growing uneasy about the negative press coverage of Whitaker's previous comments about Mueller.

In an interview with Reuters, Clovis said Whitaker is "a wonderful man" and "a dear friend".

Voters already sent a message Tuesday, especially in the suburbs, where they defeated two longtime Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, Naperville protester Dawn Mashayekhi said.

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