What happens now in the Russia probe?
WASHINGTON (SBG) - With the ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the president's prompting, many wonder what's next in the Russia probe.
Democratic lawmakers are demanding the Trump administration preserve all documents relevant to his departure. They want to investigate exactly what happened.
At the same time, activist groups, fearing special counsel Robert Mueller is next in line for possible dismissal, are encouraging demonstrations nationwide. Some worry, the president is working to shut down the probe.
Why put the country into this kind of crisis," asked Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. He's also vice chair of the senate committee on intelligence. "Donald Trump says he‘s got nothing to hide. If he’s got nothing to hide, let the Mueller investigation finish and make its report. Let our investigation in the intelligence committee finish and issue our report.
The fears are elevated, since session’s interim replacement, Matthew Whitaker, in the past, openly criticized Mueller’s investigation.
During a television appearance in July of 2017, he said "I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Mueller. But he just reduces his budget so low so his investigation grinds to almost a halt."
According to the Washington Post, that’s a real possibility.
A story published Wednesday said if Whitaker takes over direct supervision of the probe from Rod Rosenstein he’d have “the ability to sharply reduce Mueller’s staff and resources.” And that “his approval would be required before Mueller could take major investigative steps”
Some want him to recuse himself and want congressional protection for Mueller.
In April, the senate judiciary committee passed a measure making it harder for a president to dismiss a special counsel.
“Then the majority leader said well we don’t need to bring it up because he said he saw no chance that Donald trump would try to stop the investigation. That excuse is gone,” argued Sen. Warner.
After 18 months of the probe, the president is clearly frustrated but claims he’s showing restraint.
“I could. I could fire everybody right now. But i don't want to stop it because politically, I don't like stopping it.”
Some of these concerns could change based on who the president nominates as a permanent replacement for Sessions.
Of course, that’ll require confirmation hearings on the hill and eventually a full senate vote.