Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer is calling for a probe into private conversations that Matthew Whitaker, the acting Attorney General had with the Trump administration about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into President Trump’s campaign’s collusion with Russia.
Citing recent news reports, Schumer says that there’s a risk that Matthew Whitaker, who is the former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s former chief of staff before he took his job after Election Day, tried to interfere in Robert Mueller’s probe.
“I am particularly concerned about whether Mr. Whitaker may have shared with the White House, or could share in his new role, confidential grand jury or investigative information from the Special Counsel investigation or any criminal investigation,” wrote Schumer in a letter on Tuesday to Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice Inspector General.
Schumer cited a report that was published by Vox earlier in the month that revealed Whitaker often spoke by phone with Donald Trump and John Kelly, the White House chief of staff.
He also brought up a New York Times report dating from Nov. 7 stating that Matthew Whitaker was seen by the Justice Department officials as both a partisan and an untrustworthy White House spy.
Schumer urged the DOJ inspector general to look into whether Whitaker shared with either the president or the senior White House advisers any confidential grand jury or any investigative information from Robert Mueller’s team.
“Unauthorized disclosure of such information—and especially to a target or subject in the investigation—may implicate criminal contempt of court, obstruction of justice, or the Department of Justice’s long-standing policy regarding contacts with the White House related to criminal investigations or cases,” said Schumer.
That Vox report, which was written by veteran reporter Murray Waas, revealed that Matthew Whitaker, while he was the chief of staff to Jeff Sessions, was advising the White House about how the president might pressure Jeff Sessions and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and get them to order the Justice Department to investigate Donald Trump’s enemies.
Trump in May urged the department to start a criminal probe about whether the FBI “infiltrated” his corrupt 2016 presidential campaign, an unfounded claim.
Schumer has urged the inspector general to discover what communications Matthew Whitaker had with Trump’s cronies as Sessions’s chief of staff as well as what issues were talked about.
He also wants to know if Whitaker provided any assurances to President Trump or any senior White House officials about the steps he would take to either interfere or obstruct Robert Mueller’s investigation.