Politics & Policy

Pelosi Demands New Acting AG Recuse Himself from Russia Probe

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., makes remarks a day after the midterm elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., November 7, 2018. (Mike Theiler/REUTERS)

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called on newly appointed acting attorney general Matt Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling.

Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, succeeded Sessions Wednesday after the one-time Alabama senator resigned at Trump’s direction. Whitaker criticized Mueller for exceeding his mandate and suggested curtailing his team’s funding in an August op-ed, prompting speculation that he, rather than Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was chosen to replace Sessions because he is sympathetic to Trump’s criticisms of the probe.

Trump has attacked Sessions repeatedly over the past year for ceding control of the Mueller probe to Rosenstein. Sessions recused himself from all Russia-related matters after it became clear that he misled investigators about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the 2016 campaign.

After confining his criticism of Sessions to private conversation throughout his first year in office, Trump began levying personal insults against one of his earliest supporters in multiple interviews as well as on Twitter.

“He took the job and then he said, ‘I’m going to recuse myself.’ I said, ‘What kind of a man is this?’” Trump said of Sessions in a Fox News interview earlier this year. “I wanted to stay uninvolved. But when everybody sees what’s going on in the Justice Department — I always put ‘justice’ now with quotes.”

With Democrats set to retake control of the House, Pelosi is expected to win the speakership and launch multiple investigations into the president’s conduct, which will no doubt be bolstered by congressional subpoena power. Pelosi has also emphasized the importance of protecting Mueller’s investigation, signaling she may pursue legislation to that end.

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