Sunday, 18 November, 2018

San Diegans join protests demanding protections for Mueller probe

Matt Whitaker's previous comments on the Mueller inquiry have caused concern Matt Whitaker's previous comments on the Mueller inquiry have caused concern Credit Charlie Neibergall AP
Andrew Cummings | 09 November, 2018, 23:01

President Trump on Friday shot down calls for his new Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation, arguing that his public comments on the probe are not out of the ordinary for a high-ranking official.

On Friday morning Trump also insisted both that he "didn't know" Whitaker, a former USA attorney and Republican candidate in Iowa, and that he was "very highly thought of".

Trump Jr. has reportedly told pals he is anxious about being arrested this week following the midterm elections and the firing of top United States lawman Jeff Sessions.

'I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about it. "I really don't know the guy". Congressional Democrats immediately called for Whitaker to remove himself from the investigation.

The protest came a day after Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and appointed Whitaker.

Even after he arrived at the Justice Department, Whitaker harbored frustration about the length of the special counsel probe and doubts about the scope of Mueller's authority, a person familiar with the matter said. "It's an obstruction of justice to appoint someone who has been very vocal about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and we think that we can't stand by and let this stand".

Trump also pushed back at complaints from Democrats and conservative legal scholars that it is illegal and unconstitutional for Whitaker to serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer since he was not confirmed by the Senate to any Justice Department post.

That is a relatively junior post - there are 93 USA attorneys, and it happened 14 years ago.

Overseeing it all is Whitaker, a former college football player and United States attorney from Iowa who was brought into the Justice Department previous year to serve as Sessions' chief of staff. He has criticized it in the past and spoken about cutting its funding. "It's clear to me it's not working, was not working between Attorney General Sessions and President Trump".

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Trump had enjoyed Whitaker's cable TV appearances - including one on CNN in which he suggested that the Mueller probe be starved of resources - and the two men soon struck a bond. But Trump and his aides are concerned about Mueller's next move with the work that is complete, according to a White House official and a Republican with close ties to the administration.

"We don't have a king or a junta or a dictator, do we?" said Arlington Heights rally organizer Jerry Freda.

Democratic Coalition chairman Jon Cooper yesterday claimed a DC source had told him Trump Jr.'s "arrest was imminent". "You would always take that meeting, ' he said".

They are calling for a "rapid response" to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the investigation.

"When you no longer have Sessions as the attorney general and you have a new attorney general, Robert Mueller has a new boss", she said into a megaphone.

Team leader with Indivisible Ogden, Pam Harrison, holds a sign on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, during a community protest against the firing of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session by President Donald Trump alongside Washington Boulevard in Ogden.

Kreutz said the appointment of Whitaker, whom the AP called "a Republican Party loyalist", eventually could end the probe by cutting funding.

Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he has not discussed the Mueller investigation with his new acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker. 'It's illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

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