Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is retiring, and incoming Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) all released statements Wednesday urging the acting attorney general to continue the Russia investigation.
Romney called it “imperative” that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.”
Flake urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring legislation to the Senate floor that would protect the investigation.
What happened to Jeff Sessions?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his letter of resignation to President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Sessions was a frequent target of Trump’s criticism after he recused himself from overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Sessions had been a Trump campaign surrogate and argued that this disqualified him from objectively overseeing the investigation.
Until a permanent replacement can be chosen, Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will take over as acting attorney general. Whitaker is a former U.S. district attorney from Iowa.
What about the Russia investigation?
Trump has frequently criticized the ongoing Russia investigation, calling it a “hoax.”
Whitaker has also expressed his displeasure with the investigation. In August 2017, Whitaker wrote an 0p-ed for CNN titled, “Mueller’s investigation of Trump is going too far,” in which he argued that special counsel Robert Mueller had come “dangerously close” to crossing a “red line” by investigating the president’s personal finances.
What did the senators say?
On Wednesday, many members of Congress expressed their gratitude to Sessions for his time as attorney general. Collins, Flake, and Romney did the same, but also asked Whitaker to keep the Russia investigation going.
I want to thank Jeff Sessions for his service to our country as Attorney General. Under Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, it is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) November 7, 2018
It is imperative that the Administration not impede the Mueller investigation. I’m concerned Rod Rosenstein will no longer be overseeing the probe. Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference—regardless of who is AG.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) November 7, 2018
Earlier this year, we passed S.2644, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would safeguard Robert Mueller’s investigation. Leader McConnell should bring the bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 7, 2018
Although he will remain in the Senate until the end of the year, Flake recently retired and the election for his replacement has still not been called. Romney was elected to the Senate on Tuesday in a landslide election in reliably conservative Utah, while Collins began her fourth term in the Senate in 2014.