Thousands of protesters packed Times Square on Thursday evening to demonstrate against President Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions - a move they view as a threat to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
Trump named Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general, saying he would soon nominate a permanent replacement for review by the Senate. The president then appointed Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, to run the Justice Department on an interim basis. "The fact that (Trump) passed over Rod Rosenstein to appoint someone else who's been critical certainly raises concerns".
In theory, Whitaker could order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation or end it altogether.
He said that Trump naming Whitaker as acting attorney general is "such corruption". They were aimed at protesting the ouster of Sessions, whose recusal allowed Mueller to operate unimpeded, and as a warning that Whitaker should not interfere with the investigation.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on Whitaker to recuse himself over his previous statements and Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler said the House Judiciary Committee would investigate Session's firing once he assumes the chairmanship in January.
In a July 10, 2017, appearance on CNN, Whitaker shrugged off the idea that the Trump Tower meeting could be part of a criminal conspiracy.
"I just don't understand it because why invite this kind of criticism or scrutiny which you knew it was going to come because of the comments he's made earlier", said Gonzales.
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The special counsel's office upheld a long-standing Justice Department guideline that calls for discretion in taking legal or law enforcement measures within 60 days of an election in an effort to avoid the impression of attempting to sway voters.
He also said on CNN a year ago that he could see a scenario in which Sessions' replacement doesn't fire Mueller but "just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to nearly a halt". A person familiar with the matter said he got on the White House's radar via conservative circles in Iowa, his TV appearances and his connections with the Federalist Society and other conservative groups. That left career DOJ Democrats in the driver's seat.
To Mr Trump's great anger, on March 2, 2017, Mr Sessions recused himself from involvement in and oversight of the nascent Russia collusion investigation because of his own Russian contacts during the 2016 campaign.
New York City Rep. Jerrold Nadler - who is now the ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee and could be the next chairman of the committee with Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives - questioned the president's move on Twitter and said that "we will be holding people accountable".
Trump repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse himself.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) faced a seemingly uncomfortable moment on Fox News Thursday when confronted with his past remarks claiming there would be "holy hell to pay" if Jeff Sessions was sacked.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called it a "blatant attempt" to undermine the Russian Federation probe, while Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that "clearly, the president has something to hide".