Several Democratic senators sent a letter to senior officials at the Justice Department urging them to publicly defend special counsel Robert Mueller in response to ongoing attacks about his investigation from the White House.
“We have significant concerns that the president or his White House could order individuals at the Department of Justice with the authority to oversee Special Counsel Mueller’s probe to interfere with the probe or shut it down,” the letter, dated March 7 but released on Tuesday, reads. “You fall in the line of succession at the Department of Justice ... we write to request that you provide a written and public commitment that you will not interfere.”
The letter was signed by nine Democratic senators: Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Chris Coons (Del.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.).
It was reportedly sent to a coterie of Justice officials just below Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in case he “were to either resign or be removed.”
The letter references reports that President Donald Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller last June as well as Trump’s repeated social media attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling it all deeply concerning.
“You have an oath to uphold the rule of law and protect the Constitution,” the senators wrote. “This includes refusing to take part in any effort to deny the American public access to the truth and refusing to participate in any attempt by the president to interfere with a legitimate and critical investigation of national importance.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Sens. Coons and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) released a bipartisan statement asking Trump to end his attacks on Mueller, saying the ongoing investigation was “in the best interest of the American people.”
“We believe that the American people should have confidence in the Department of Justice’s ability to conduct independent investigations and its commitment to the rule of law,” the pair said. “We urge President Trump to allow the Special Counsel to complete his work without impediment.”