Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is expected to oversee the special counsel's investigation into potential coordination between the president's Republican campaign and Russian Federation now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned.
The special counsel regulation under which Mueller was appointed gives the attorney general or acting attorney general authority to fire Mueller only for "good cause", such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity or conflict of interest.
LOYALIST: Former Sessions chief of staff Matt Whitaker has taken over oversight of the Russian Federation probe. He did not mention that White House chief of staff John Kelly had called Sessions beforehand to ask for his resignation. Whitaker did, however, believe that Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself from the matter, the person said.
But a flurry of activity during his quiet period, including weeks of grand jury testimony about Trump confidant Roger Stone and negotiations over an interview with the president, hinted at public developments ahead as investigators move closer to addressing key questions underpinning the special counsel inquiry: Did Trump illegally obstruct the investigation?
Mr Mueller is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, resulting in a series of criminal charges against several Trump associates.
"The rule of law is disappearing before our eyes", tweeted Sally Yates, a deputy attorney general under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama and briefly in the top job under Trump before he sacked her.More news: Ocasio-Cortez becomes youngest woman elected to Congress
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The next month, Whitaker wrote an op-ed posted on CNN's website in which he argued that Mueller's investigation appeared to be going too far and may constitute a "witch hunt", echoing one of Trump's favorite descriptions to criticize and discredit the probe.
In April, Pingree co-sponsored House legislation to protect the Mueller investigation by making it more hard for a president to remove a special counsel. Whitaker was a vocal critic of the investigation prior to his appointment.
After that campaign, Whitaker helped start and served for three years as executive director for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a self-described "ethics watchdog" that often targets Democratic officials and groups with misconduct investigations and complaints.
In the House of Representatives, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee - which Democrats will control from January - sounded the alarm.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Mueller's probe will continue to its end "because no new attorney general can be can be confirmed who will stop that investigation".
On Thursday, the Acosta incident entered even more weird territory when the White House was accused of tweeting a video doctored to make the reporter appear more aggressive in fending off the female press aide who tried to remove his mic.
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.