Schumer: Democrats could tie Mueller protection measure to must-pass legislation

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that Democrats could tie a measure to protect special couns...

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 10:33 AM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 10:33 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."

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Chuck Schumer

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Robert Mueller

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Russia meddling investigation

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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

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Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
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Panola357274
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Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
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Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
Sunflower275868
Tate264759
Alcorn257850
Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
Copiah235649
Yazoo235054
Tippah233845
Simpson230166
Leake226764
Coahoma219054
Grenada213970
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Marion203371
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Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
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Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
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Greene75123
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Choctaw50824
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