Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein cruises to reelection My father wants to end illegal immigration with this answer CIA’s ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker must testify before the Judiciary Committee and pledge that he will not interfere with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE‘s investigation.
“Whitaker should come before the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as possible and make a firm commitment not to interfere in the investigation, to include restricting the investigation or making changes in personnel,” Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpMidterms: The winners and losers GOP Rep. Mike Bost wins reelection in Illinois Sisolak becomes first Dem to win Nevada governor race since 1994 MORE announced on Wednesday that he was ousting Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsElection fallout: What to watch for now The Hill’s Morning Report — Judgment Day: New data suggest big Dem gains in House, governors’ races Election Countdown: Trump frames midterm as referendum on presidency | Senate seats most likely to flip | Huge turnout raises Dem hopes | Controversy over Trump ad | Weather forecast has storm headed to key states | DOJ to monitor voting in 19 states MORE and that Whitaker, his chief of staff, would fill the role in an acting capacity.
But Whitaker’s ascendence immediately set off alarm bells among congressional Democrats. He’s previously criticized the Muller investigation including warning in a 2017 op-ed that Mueller was “dangerously close to crossing” a line if he looked into the Trump family’s finances.
The Justice Department confirmed Wednesday that Whitaker will oversee the Russia probe, taking over for Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinElection fallout: What to watch for now The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump, Obama battle for the Senate The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Final stretch to the midterms amid backdrop of violence MORE who was put in charge of the investigation after Sessions recused himself.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe numbers don’t lie: Working Americans are better off under GOP Trump calls Gillum ‘not equipped’ to be Florida governor McSally accuses Arizona media of ‘protecting’ Dem opponent Sinema MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiMidterms: The winners and losers Ryan on midterms: ‘Tonight history has repeated itself’ Election fallout: What to watch for now MORE (D-Calif.) immediately called on Whitaker to recuse himself. They were quickly backed up by other Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWarren wins reelection, setting up 2020 White House bid Sherrod Brown wins reelection in Ohio Pipe bomb suspect to be held without bail MORE (D-N.Y.), who is a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Feinstein added on Wednesday that an individual who hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate should not be able to oversee the Russia investigation.
“Rod Rosenstein has been capably overseeing Robert Mueller’s work and should continue in that role. No one who lacks Senate confirmation should be placed in charge of this investigation, especially Matthew Whitaker who publicly criticized Robert Mueller’s work just last year,” she said.
Feinstein didn’t specify in her statement if she believes Whitaker should appear before the committee in a public or closed-door setting. But because Democrats are in the minority they would need the support of Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRyan downplays split with Trump on birthright citizenship CIA’s ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all Trump on false Kavanaugh accusation: ‘How about the other ones?’ MORE (R-Iowa), the committee’s chairman, to force Whitaker to appear.