Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker stated that he thinks that there is no reason to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, despite the escalating pressure from the top Democrat, according to Lindsay Graham, Fox News informed.
President Trump appointed Whitaker to take the position of the former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite – or perhaps because of – his previous writings, including an op-ed in which he argued that Mueller was “dangerously close” to reaching above his statutory authority.
“He believed he did not have a reason to recuse himself legally or factually,” Graham told Fox News. “Nothing I’ve seen would require him to be recused. I think he’s got the background and the judgment to be able to fulfill this job.”
“When it comes to the Mueller investigation, I am very confident he will handle it professionally,” Graham continued. “There’s a chain of command. There’s a regular order in terms of how you deal with special counsels. And I’m sure you will follow regular order, and will do nothing outside of what the law would require.”
Graham’s remarks came as tensions escalated in the Senate over Whitaker’s appointment. The retiring Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said that he would pull his support for all federal judicial nominees, until the Senate’s GOP leadership permits consideration of legislation to increase protections for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s position.
Graham answered that there was no need to rachet up the stakes.
“I do not want to hold judges hostage,” Graham said. “Having talked to Mr. Whitaker and the president, I have zero concern that Mr. Mueller’s job is in jeopardy.”
“I authored the legislation I think it’d be good for the country in perpetuity to make sure that special counsels have some protection. But as to Mr. Mueller, I see no reason to believe that he’s going to be dismissed by President Trump or Mr. Whitaker,” he added.
Whitaker did not say anything specifically about whether he thought he should recuse himself.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to work with the men and women of the Department of Justice,” Whitaker said. “You know in the first week, I’ve been able to deliver the commission for Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh’s investiture, represent the Department of Justice at the Veterans’ Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery on Sunday — so I’ve really been having an enjoyable time, but most importantly we’re just going to stick to the mission and keep soldiering forward every day trying to accomplish the mission of the Department of Justice.”
In the meantime, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion in which they support the President’s naming of Whitaker as acting attorney general.