Matthew Whitaker, named on Wednesday to replace Jeff Sessions, will directly oversee Special Prosecutor Robert Muellers investigation into possible links between Trumps campaign team and Russian officials.
In the one-paragraph order, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit told both Mueller and lawyers for Miller that they have until Nov. 19 to turn in briefs that describe if there will be legal ramifications stemming from Whitakers appointment.
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Whitaker publicly criticized Muellers investigation before he was hired as Sessions chief of staff last year.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May 2017, which the special counsels office has argued in various cases as a constitutional move. Rosenstein had been in charge of oversight of Mueller because of Sessions recusal.
Sam Clovis, who was co-chair of Trumps 2016 campaign and has testified before the grand jury in the Mueller investigation, said he and Whitaker became good friends when they ran against each other as Republicans in a 2014 Senate primary campaign in Iowa. Whitaker also later served as the chairman of a Clovis campaign for state treasurer.
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In an interview with Reuters, Clovis said Whitaker is a wonderful man and a dear friend. He added that Whitaker was a sounding board for him when Clovis worked for Trumps campaign.
Argue this case as if it was being argued yesterday morning, said Judge Karen Henderson, who said the panel would hear the case as if the shakeup had not happened.
Walter Shaub, who was director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for four years before resigning in July 2017, said the friendship between Whitaker and Clovis should disqualify Whitaker from supervising the Mueller investigation.
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Whitaker has to recuse himself under DOJs regulation requiring recusal if you have a personal or political relationship with someone substantially involved in conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution, Shaub told Reuters.
A DOJ regulation cited by Shaub states that employees may not supervise prosecutions or investigations that involve someone with a personal or political relationship.It says the possible conflict can be set aside if the employees supervisor judges that the relationship does not affect the officials impartiality or create the public perception of a conflict.
Trevor Potter, a former Republican commissioner on the Federal Election Commission who now leads the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for more transparency in elections, said the question of whether Whitaker should recuse himself depends on Clovis status in the Mueller investigation.
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If he has a close personal friendship with someone who is involved in the investigation because of his role in the Trump campaign, then that would present a recusal issue, Potter said.
Paul Rosenzweig, a fellow at the non-partisan R Street Institute which specializes in public policy, said he believed Whitakers friendship with Clovis is probably not a problem but that Whitaker should ask the DOJs Professional Responsibility and Accountability Office whether he has a conflict.
I agree with Pat partially. Democrats hate Trump because: 1) Trump dared to drag Bill Clinton’s rape victims to the Presidential debates. 2) Trumps followers with Trumps blessing want Hillary locked up. Trump dared to demonize and damn the democrats every bit as much as the democrats demonized Trump and his followers as dregs and deplorables. Democrats can dish it out but they cant take it. 3) Trump is dismantling globalism and undermining or withdrawing from the global institutions the left built over the last 50-100 years. THIS THREATENS MANY OF THE FIFEDOMS OF THEIR POWER. 4) Every Presidential Administration leaves a legacy of loyal employees and that leaves power for prior administrations and for the prior party machine that got them elected. TRUMP IS SLOWLY CLEANING HOUSE FROM OBAMA AND BUSHII AND BILL & HILLARY CLINTON. THAT THREATENS THEIR POWER AND INFLUENCE AND THEY DONT LIKE IT.
While he still led the government ethics office, Shaub last year advised the Justice Department to require Sessions recusal from the Mueller probe because Sessions had been a senior adviser to Trump during the election campaign.
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Sessions decision to recuse himself infuriated Trump. After months of publicly criticizing his attorney general, Trump asked him to resign on Wednesday.
Whitakers selection by Trump as acting attorney general drew sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers, who described it as an attempt by the president to undermine and possibly end Muellers investigation.
Muellers team has netted convictions and guilty pleas from several Trump campaign staff members and advisers.
ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) — Protesters with Roanoke Indivisible joined hundreds of other groups around the nation to speak out and march against what they call a gross injustice. They gathered at the Elmwood Park Amphitheater.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, and describes Muellers investigation as a witch hunt.
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Moscow has denied U.S. security agencies allegations that it interfered in the election in a bid to help Trump.
A former U.S. attorney and conservative commentator, Whitaker last year wrote an opinion piece for CNN arguing that Mueller would be going too far if he investigated the Trump familys finances.
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Washington (CNN)Leading figures in the Russia drama face fateful choices in the coming days and months that could tip America into a political and constitutional abyss. With the midterm elections in the rearview, a sense of foreboding is settling over Washington.
CNNs Laura Jarrett, Evan Perez, Sara Murray, Pamela Brown, Andrew Kaczynski and Adam Levine contributed to this story.