WILMINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-author of the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, released the following statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to resign today and President Trump named attorney Matthew Whitaker the Acting Attorney General. 

“President Trump has repeatedly attacked both the Attorney General and the Department of Justice over the Mueller investigation,” said Senator Coons. “I am deeply concerned that President Trump, both in forcing Attorney General Sessions’ resignation and effectively stripping Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of his authority to supervise the Mueller investigation, is now in position to easily interfere with or even end the Mueller investigation. That is a red line which President Trump has been warned not to cross by Republicans and Democrats alike for months. 

“The President and Mr. Whitaker must demonstrate that the Mueller investigation will continue under its current leadership and supervision unimpeded. Given his previous comments about the investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from oversight of the Special Counsel investigation during his tenure as Acting Attorney General. Additionally, if there is any indication that the President has fired the Attorney General and named Mr. Whitaker as Acting Attorney General to influence or end Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, that would make today’s action an historic attack on the rule of law, and the beginning of a crisis the likes of which we have not seen since Watergate.

“Congress must now act to protect the independence of the investigation and uphold the rule of law. The Senate and House should move to vote on the bipartisan Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which would protect the Special Counsel and future Special Counsels from undue interference.  This legislation has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, including support from Chairman Grassley.  I will be pressing my Democratic and Republican colleagues to move toward a vote as soon as possible.”