McConnell: 'The Mueller investigation is not under threat'

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Chuck Schumer Timing of Sessions firing'suspect

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Chuck Schumer Timing of Sessions firing'suspect

The replacement of Jeff Sessions with Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker, who has parroted the president in calling Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation a "witch hunt" and speculated about how an AG might effectively kill the probe by starving it of funds, brings the country to the cusp of an emergency.

"Under these conditions, it would be wholly inappropriate for Mr. Whitaker to supervise the Special Counsel investigation given his documented history of opposition to it", Nadler said, before warning that the Sessions firing would be investigated and warning that documents related to the event must be preserved.

He made the remarks to a conservative forum in April 2014. Whitaker voiced doubts about the scope and direction of the Russian Federation probe and suggested a future attorney general might put the brakes on Mueller by cutting off funding for the investigation.

Asked about Whitaker on Friday, Trump told journalists: "I don't know Matt Whitaker".

Less than 24 hours after US midterm elections wrapped up, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at the request of President Donald Trump.

The probe, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller under the supervision of the Justice Department, has clouded the Trump presidency.

That would include specifying that only a Senate-confirmed Justice Department official - which Mr Whitaker is not - could dismiss Mr Mueller. "As Sessions's chief of staff, Whitaker met with the president in the Oval Office more than a dozen times, normally accompanying the attorney general, according to a senior administration official", the Washington Post reported yesterday.

McConnell, a close Trump ally who said Friday that he talks frequently with the president, insisted that Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation in 2016 is not under threat.

Slogans included "Hands off Mueller" and "Nobody's above the law".

"My observation is that Matt has a very strong relationship with the president, and this comes with conversations I've had with friends and others that work in the administration", added Larson, who also served as USA ambassador to Latvia under former President George W. Bush. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad were among those who thought "very highly" of Whitaker. He also told the network that he could envision a scenario where Sessions is replaced with an attorney general who "reduces [Mueller's] budget so low that his investigation grinds to nearly a halt". McConnell said he expects Whitaker to be "a very interim" appointee.

All this is enough to give doubters concern that Trump, wittingly or otherwise, may be treading in the footsteps of Richard Nixon 44 years ago, when he tried to derail another investigation into his questionable ethical and lawful presidential behavior, and ultimately paid dearly for it.

"We don't discuss recusals but there is no reason to think that is the case", a Justice Department spokeswoman said after Sessions left Wednesday.

"The Russia investigation is a hoax... a phony hoax", Trump added. "That also happens to be my view".

The attorneys general also said Muller must have the "full authority to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any violations of federal law".

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