What the acting attorney general thinks of the Mueller probe

Frederick Owens
November 9, 2018

While calling on Whitaker to recuse himself from the probe, Galland also said that "Congress must immediately move to protect the independence of Special Counsel Mueller and put in protections that prevent Trump from firing him or undercutting his investigation or having his new acting attorney general or eventual replacement obstruct Mueller's work".

In an op-ed in August a year ago he publicly urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - who oversees the probe - to "limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel".

Mr Whitaker can now assume control of the Mueller inquiry, which has been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein until now.

"Trump's ouster of AG Sessions and replacing him with Trump toady Matthew Whitaker is clearly a move to interfere with the investigation of Russia's attack on the 2016 election".

The protests come a day after Trump fired Sessions, who had angered the president by recusing himself from the Mueller investigation.

In an interview previous year with a conservative talk radio host, Whitaker said there was "no collusion" between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation, a key question being examined by Mueller.

The Mueller investigation has so far produced 32 criminal charges and four guilty pleas from Trump associates. But the work is not done, and critical decisions await that could shape the remainder of Trump's presidency.

David Bosel, a retired political scientist, described Trump's attempts to scupper the Mueller investigation as "dictatorial" and accused most Republicans in Congress of helping Trump tilt the USA towards "fascism".

Mueller, who has been negotiating with Trump's lawyers about interviewing the president, is expected to produce a written report for the Justice Department that explains the findings, though it's not clear how much will be public.

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Susan Collins, Republican senator for ME, also warned Mr Trump against interfering with Mr Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, saying he "must be allowed" to finish it.

According to USA media reports on Thursday, Mueller's team have started writing the final report of the investigation.

Rosenstein remains at the department and could still be involved in oversight. Sessions said in a letter to Trump that he resigned at the president's request.

Justice Department officials said that under normal circumstances, the deputy attorney general would likely play an active, hands-on role in overseeing such a high profile probe, and they had no reason to believe that Rosenstein would now be cut out.

With control of the lower house of Congress, the Democrats have the power to order their own investigation into Trump's dealings with the Russians and other foreign governments.

In an interview with CNN in 2017, he argued that the inquiry could be kneecapped if the attorney general "just reduces his budget so low that the investigation grinds nearly to a halt".

Sessions, a 71-year-old former Republican senator from Alabama, was the first senator to endorse Trump's insurgent presidential campaign.

He had also pressed to reauthorize a controversial secret domestic spying program over the Justice Department's protests. Nobody Is Above The Law said it wants Whitaker to recuse himself from supervising the investigation. An infuriated Trump responded by repeatedly and publicly seeking to humiliate Sessions.

In 2017 he even used Trump's words, warning against Mueller engaging in a "witch hunt".

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