Democrats Seek Hearing on Trump's Ouster of Sessions

Frederick Owens
November 9, 2018

By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller's boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation.

The new acting attorney general or whoever serves as his fulltime replacement could simply brief Trump and his aides on where the special counsel is focused if the president doesn't know already.

Never in modern history has a president attacked a Cabinet member as frequently and harshly in public as Trump did Sessions, 71, who had been one of the first members of Congress to back his presidential campaign in 2015.

Rosenstein no longer will oversee the special counsel investigation.

Schumer called it "paramount" that Mueller's status be protected by the new attorney general.

Trump told associates that he felt that Whitaker would be "loyal" and would not have recused himself from the Russian Federation probe as Sessions had done, according to two Republicans close to the White House not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

She said the investigation into alleged Russian Federation collusion has been winding down for weeks prior to Sessions stepping down.

Whitaker so far hasn't said much about his outlook for the Justice Department or the special counsel investigation; Rosenstein hasn't spoken publicly either since Sessions' dismissal.

More news: Dozens of Facebook pages and Instagram accounts removed

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. Mueller's team also has been pressing for an interview with Trump. Whitaker criticized both aspects past year, and as he is now taking over oversight of the probe, he could try to strangle it, or even rescind Mueller's appointment. "By forcing the firing (of) the attorney general, the president now threatens the rule of law itself".

And it appears that has happened with Whitaker's appointment-a Justice Department spokesperson confirmed yesterday that "the Acting Attorney General is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice".

He is a longtime friend of Trump and endorsed him after dropping out of the 2016 presidential campaign.

He found satisfaction in being able to reverse Obama-era policies that he and other conservatives say flouted the will of Congress, including by encouraging prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges they could and by promoting more aggressive enforcement of federal marijuana law.

It was Clovis, no stranger to TV and radio himself, who encouraged Whitaker to get a regular commentary gig on cable television to get President Donald Trump's attention, according to friends who Whitaker told at the time. "He has no reason to recuse himself", Malcolm told VOA. Trump's advisers are privately expressing worries that the special counsel, who's been out of the news for the past month, has been stealthily compiling information and could soon issue new indictments or a damning final report.

In piercing attacks, Trump called Sessions weak and beleaguered, complained that he wasn't more aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and called it "disgraceful" that Sessions wasn't more serious in scrutinizing the origins of the Russian Federation investigation for possible law enforcement bias - even though the attorney general did ask the Justice Department's inspector general to examine those claims.

Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he wants "answers immediately" and "we will hold people accountable".

Mr Trump tweeted shortly after the resignation was announced, naming a temporary replacement of Sessions.

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