GOP senators ask for Mueller investigation to be kept open after Sessions leaves the DOJ

GOP senators ask for Mueller investigation to be kept open after Sessions leaves the DOJ
Republican U.S Senate candidate Mitt Romney talks to his supporters after he won the Utah Senate seat, at his campaign headquarters on Tuesday in Orem, Utah. Romney stressed that it was imperative for the Mueller investigation to continue after the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (George Frey/Getty Images)

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.

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.