WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed concern about the integrity of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation following the sudden resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.
“Protecting Mueller and his investigation is paramount. It would create a constitutional crisis if this were a prelude to ending or greatly limiting the Mueller investigation,” Schumer said at a news conference shortly afterwards.
President Donald Trump announced Sessions’ departure in a Wednesday afternoon tweet. Trump tweeted that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general. Shortly after the tweet Sessions’ resignation letter was published by several media outlets, which suggested Trump requested Sessions to step down.
Last year Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice’s investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The recusal was preceded by reports that said Sessions had twice met with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was charged with overseeing the probe following Sessions’ recusal. Rosenstein appointed Mueller on May 17, 2017, eight days after Trump’s firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.
Sessions’ recusal infuriated Trump. The president attacked Sessions in tweets and reportedly mocked the former Alabama senator’s accent and demeanor behind closed doors.
Trump has stringently denied allegations of collusion and has called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt.”
For months Senate Republicans implored Trump not to fire their former colleague. However, in recent weeks, some Republicans have backed off that stance.