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Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment Threatens the Rule of Law

10 November 2018

Wednesday, Trump replaced Sessions, who had recused himself from overseeing Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who previously called Mueller's appointment "ridiculous", according to CNN.

Trump's selection of Whitaker as acting AG (Sessions had recused himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation) drew immediate fire, as Whitaker has already established himself as a highly partisan Trump loyalist.

Following Sessions' abrupt resignation on Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that Matthew Whitaker, chief of staff to Sessions, will become the acting attorney general.

There have been broad calls for Whitaker to recuse himself from the probe.

"I think it seems wildly inappropriate to most of us that the president would appoint someone who has such a strong opinion on an investigation on him", said Mindie Riley, a Bethlehem resident who helped organize the rally.

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The Mueller investigation appears to have advanced prior to the midterm elections, Allen said in a note, but Whitaker will likely immediately take steps to limit the scope and duration of the probe.

"Trump's actions are being compared with those of U.S. President Richard Nixon in one of the most controversial episodes of the Watergate scandal, the Saturday Night Massacre", said organizers.

"I haven't ruled out anything", he said.

Mueller was named special counsel by Rosenstein after Sessions recused himself from the probe.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump defended his choice of Whitaker, who has been panned by critics for his past comments on the probe, saying the former USA attorney had an excellent reputation and came highly recommended by former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is now Trump's ambassador to China.

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Bipartisan bills to protect Mueller from politically motivated removal have been introduced in the House and Senate. Others have said that Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional, since Trump didn't seek the Senate's advice and consent.

Trump told reporters Friday.

The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington, Virginia, New Mexico and Maryland.

Sessions felt that Mueller's investigation had gone on too long, but also believed it was important that he stay in the attorney general job as a means of protecting the special counsel's work so that, when it was concluded, the public would have confidence it had not been manipulated, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Serving as a special counsel does not require Senate confirmation by statute. "I'm saying there's a middle ground where he tells us the story, locks it into the court system by indicting others, then files a report with Whitaker". He has questioned the Russian Federation probe's scope and spoken publicly before joining the Justice Department about ways an attorney general could theoretically stymie the investigation.

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Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment Threatens the Rule of Law