A Strong America

Chuck Schumer Is Willing to Shut Down the Government to Protect the Mueller Investigation

And Nancy Pelosi believes Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, should recuse himself

Image Credit: Shutterstock

“I think he was appropriately appointed legally,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about Matthew Whitaker on Sunday morning’s “Face the Nation” on CBS.

“I don’t think he has to recuse himself,” Graham also said to host Margaret Brennan.

“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 … I am confident that Mr. Mueller will be allowed to do his job without interference.”

Some politicians and pundits have questioned the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general this past Wednesday, in the wake of Jeff Sessions’ departure, citing the circumvention of the Senate’s advise-and-consent role.

New York Democrats Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others, have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from handling the Mueller investigation based on public comments Whitaker has made in the past about it.

Nadler’s role will soon include chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee — affording him a position with considerable power.

And his first priority, he told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, would be to “protect the Mueller investigation.”

He called Whitaker a “complete political lackey” and a “real threat to the integrity of [the Mueller] investigation.”

“Our very first witness after January 3rd — we will summon or if necessary subpoena Mr. Whitaker,” said Nadler, adding he believed Whitaker’s only qualification for the job appeared to be as a “hatchet man” for President Trump to “destroy the Mueller investigation.”

(On a separate note, Nadler dispelled reporting that indicated he plans to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, saying that impeachment “could be down the road, maybe,” based on the findings of Mueller’s and other investigations.)

“You don’t recuse somebody because they have opinions different than the people they’re overseeing,” Sen. Graham added on “Face the Nation,” responding to the host’s query about whether he believes Whitaker could do his job with impartiality.

“Mr. Mueller will be allowed to do his job without political interference by Mr. Whitaker … [He] … is legally qualified and otherwise qualified to oversee this investigation until a new attorney general would be appointed, and I think that will happen early next year.”

Whitaker’s past public statements have included that there is no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had against President Trump; he’s also referred to the special counsel’s investigation as the “Mueller lynch mob.”

Graham sits on the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary. He talked with the newly appointed acting attorney general on Saturday and will be meeting again with this week.

Pelosi, in a Friday interview that aired on “Face the Nation” on CBS on Sunday, said she believed the integrity of the Mueller investigation was placed in peril upon Whitaker’s appointment.

“I think that [Whitaker] should recuse himself for any review of the investigation because of statements he has made already,” said Pelosi, who added that she does not have confidence in Whitaker as America’s top law enforcement official.

“[Whitaker’s appointment] does violence to the Constitution and the vision of our Founders to appoint such a person in such a manner to be the chief legal officer in our country, and that’s bipartisan,” said Pelosi.

“We are not scattershot,” she also said. “We are not doing any investigation for a political purpose,” she also said, speaking on whether a newly Democratically controlled House may legally mire Trump with intentionally endless subpoenas.

“We will be very strategic,” she added.

“[Whitaker] has already prejudged the Mueller situation,” said Schumer on CNN’s “State of the Union” — later telling host Jake Tapper that keeping Whitaker in his new position would “create a constitutional crisis by inhibiting Mueller or firing Mueller.”

“Congress has to act,” Schumer also said.

Schumer announced that he, along with Pelosi and other fellow Democrats who are ranking members on their respective committees, was sending a letter to the chief ethics officer of the Justice Department, asking him to issue guidelines regarding Whitaker’s potential recusal from matters pertaining to the Mueller investigation.

If Whitaker does not recuse himself, Schumer said he would attach a demand for Whitaker’s non-interference to “must pass” legislation such as the spending bill — then risking another government shutdown.

As Schumer said on “State of the Union,” some senators — who may or may not have standing to bring such a suit — are pursuing legal action challenging Whitaker’s appointment.

Schumer and other Democrats contend that Whitaker’s appointment circumvents the Senate’s constitutional advise-and-consent role in the case of “principal officers.”

Republicans counter than the Federal Vacancies Reform Act in the U.S. Code expressly permits the president to make precisely this sort of replacement in an acting capacity on a temporary basis.

As Schumer said on “State of the Union,” some senators — who may or may not have standing to bring such a suit — are pursuing legal action challenging Whitaker’s appointment.

Schumer said it was paramount to avoid interference with the Mueller investigation, lest the United States “become a third world republic.”

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.

Join the Discussion

COMMENTS POLICY: We have no tolerance for messages of violence, racism, vulgarity, obscenity or other such discourteous behavior. Thank you for contributing to a respectful and useful online dialogue.