As the dual investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and by the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York close their pincer movement around President Trump, the president has become increasingly erratic and desperate, firing senior staff, making incomprehensible foreign policy decisions, lashing out at his perceived opposition in tweet storms of ever-increasing ferocity.
Trump’s moves to assert control over the Justice Department charged with investigating the 17 different open inquiries into potential criminal behavior by himself, his family and the organizations they run have caused serious concern that the public may never get to see the results of the Special Counsel’s exhaustive probe due to one of the very accusations that Mueller is looking into, obstruction of justice by the president.
Trump has fueled those concerns by firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replacing him with an acting AG, Matthew Whitaker, and a nominee for the permanent role, William Barr, who have both publicly criticized the Mueller investigation and expressed an expansive view of the ability of executive privilege to protect the president.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wants to allay any fears the public may have that the results of the Special Counsel’s detailed inquiry will be swept under the carpet by Trump’s newly appointed defenders.
Appearing this morning on CNN‘s State of the Union, Rep. Schiff promised that he would do anything in his power to compel the publication of Mueller’s findings.
“I’m prepared to make sure we do everything possible so that the public has the advantage of as much of the information as it can,” Schiff said of his intentions once he obtains the subpoena power that accompanies the chairmanship of the committee.
“Now, there may be parts of the report that have to be redacted because they involved classified information or they involve grand jury material,” Schiff said, adding, “This case is just too important to keep from the American people what it’s really about.”
The primary worry that motivated Congressman Schiff’s vow of disclosure was the news on Friday that acting Attorney General Whitaker had been advised by Justice Department ethics officials to recuse himself from the Mueller probe — as Sessions had done earlier to the eternal consternation of the president — yet had refused to do so, cognizant of the fate of his former boss and predecessor.
“This is exactly what we feared about Whitaker’s appointment,” Schiff told CNN. “We are going to scrutinize every single action by Matt Whitaker to make sure that the public knows just what he does,” Schiff promised.
You can watch a segment of Congressman Adam Schiff’s appearance on CNN‘s State of the Union in the video clip below.
Ethics officials recommended Whitaker recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. He refused.
Now any decision he makes is tainted. Attorneys must recuse themselves if there's even an appearance of conflict. Anything less jeopardizes public confidence in the rule of law. pic.twitter.com/yuaswyvDVM
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 23, 2018
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Original reporting by Eli Watkins at CNN.