Nov. 7, 2018

As Sessions Departs, His Replacement Must Publicly Commit to Protect the Mueller Investigation

Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: Public Citizen is a leader of a coalition that is organizing people around the country to protest any interference in the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

By firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions the day after the election, the Trump administration is sticking a thumb in the eyes of voters who have been deceived by the false calm surrounding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s autonomy.

Matthew Whitaker, who Trump appointed to be acting attorney general, should not oversee Mueller’s investigation because Whitaker has publicly denounced it.

The leave-taking of Sessions is the storm after that calm, and we understand the high stakes for our democracy in this leadership shakeup. Donald Trump and his surrogates consistently have worked to undermine the incredibly effective Mueller investigation. It is crucial that the independence of the special counsel’s probe be preserved and the investigation be permitted to continue unhindered.

As happened in 1973 when Nixon’s Justice Department replaced Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox with Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, any new official who becomes responsible for overseeing the Mueller investigation must commit to – and be empowered to – protect the Mueller investigation from outside interference. If they do not take this step, they should expect people in the streets to protect Mueller and the mandate of the special counsel.

Both parties must insist that the investigation be protected from interference. If we are to have a functioning democracy, we must defend the bedrock principle that no one is above the law.

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