STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

What Schumer plans to do about Whitaker

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tells CNN's Jake Tapper that President Donald Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointment of Matthew Whitaker will "create a constitutional crisis."

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 9:44 AM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 10:00 AM

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that Democrats could tie a measure to protect special counsel Robert Mueller to must-pass legislation should acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker not recuse himself from oversight of Mueller's Russia probe.

"We Democrats, House and Senate, will attempt to add to must-pass legislation, in this case the spending bill, legislation that would prevent Mr. Whitaker from interfering with the Mueller investigation" should Whitaker not recuse, Schumer told CNN's Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."

Schumer's comments came as he announced that he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with other key Democrats, were sending a letter to Lee Lofthus, the top ethics officer at the Justice Department, asking for Lofthus to let them know if he had advised Whitaker to recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation.

Prior to taking over for Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, Whitaker criticized the investigation on several occasions, including as a legal commentator for CNN.

Schumer said Whitaker's appointment "should concern every American" and warned of a crisis should Whitaker not step aside from the special counsel investigation.

"If he stays there, he will create a constitutional crisis by inhibiting Mueller or firing Mueller," Schumer said.

But when asked if Democrats would go as far as threatening a government shutdown unless Congress passed a measure to protect Mueller, Schumer said he expected enough bipartisan support to avoid that possibility.

"If that doesn't happen, we'll see what happens down the road," Schumer said.

Bipartisan legislation has been brought forward in the past to protect Mueller's investigation, but when the issue cropped up last April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not bring such legislation to the floor for a vote.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who co-sponsored a bill to protect Mueller, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he was confident Whitaker would not quash the investigation.

"I don't think he has to recuse himself," Graham said. "I am confident the Mueller investigation will be allowed to come to a good, solid conclusion, that there will be no political influence put on Mr. Mueller by Mr. Whitaker to do anything other than Mr. Mueller's job."

Meanwhile, Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner said Sunday he did not think the Mueller probe was in danger and waved off the need for a bill to protect it.

"Why protect something that's actually continuing" Gardner said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Schumer's renewed push following Sessions' ouster and Whitaker's temporary appointment could put him and McConnell on course to clash over the independence of the Mueller investigation. It comes as House Democrats, newly empowered after the midterm elections, consider their next steps.

New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, who is expected to lead the House Judiciary Committee, told CNN last week that Democrats could make a measure protecting Mueller a "condition of passage" for government funding in December.

Nadler said Sunday on "State of the Union" that Whitaker would be the first witness the panel would call next year to question him about his criticisms of the Russian investigation.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93556

Reported Deaths: 2810
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6974155
DeSoto541155
Harrison373272
Jackson338867
Madison320886
Rankin319075
Lee260667
Jones242078
Forrest239070
Washington217971
Lafayette208439
Lauderdale1999124
Bolivar179465
Oktibbeha175050
Lamar163134
Neshoba1536103
Panola144027
Sunflower141744
Lowndes139957
Warren138150
Leflore136980
Pontotoc123416
Pike121248
Monroe118865
Scott116425
Copiah116233
Coahoma112327
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106753
Grenada106135
Yazoo103829
Simpson101143
Union97824
Tate95137
Leake93937
Adams91936
Wayne87721
Pearl River86550
Marion84133
Prentiss81117
Covington80522
Alcorn77311
Itawamba76221
Newton75723
Tallahatchie75418
George74913
Winston72419
Tishomingo65837
Chickasaw65524
Tippah64216
Attala64125
Walthall59325
Clay57817
Hancock56121
Jasper55415
Noxubee54315
Clarke53539
Smith52314
Calhoun50612
Tunica47913
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41714
Perry40718
Quitman3745
Humphreys37315
Stone35511
Greene34517
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32511
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2429
Benton2191
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131405

Reported Deaths: 2292
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19015337
Mobile13066289
Montgomery8674173
Madison758375
Tuscaloosa7240114
Lee571359
Shelby568450
Baldwin506149
Marshall383543
Etowah335547
Calhoun333839
Morgan319726
Houston270822
Elmore254947
DeKalb235519
St. Clair223435
Walker222680
Talladega206926
Limestone199519
Cullman184517
Dallas174826
Franklin174328
Russell17132
Autauga169024
Lauderdale164633
Colbert160626
Escambia156225
Blount155114
Jackson150611
Chilton148527
Dale133043
Covington130927
Coffee12778
Pike11559
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113042
Clarke104917
Marion94228
Butler90938
Barbour8357
Winston70912
Marengo69919
Lowndes64827
Pickens63514
Bibb63210
Hale61528
Randolph60812
Bullock58714
Lawrence58520
Monroe5758
Geneva5724
Cherokee56516
Washington54613
Clay5427
Perry5376
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52331
Macon47720
Henry4724
Fayette4219
Sumter41819
Lamar3462
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3236
Greene30015
Coosa1643
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 69°
Columbus
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather