Issuing a preemptive warning to an administration that has repeatedly lied about its policies, withheld financial disclosures, and challenged the probe of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller into alleged 2016 election meddling, the incoming House Judiciary Committee chair on Thursday ordered the Trump administration to preserve all documents related to former Attorney General Jeff Session’s forced resignation.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who will oversee the committee now that the Democratic Party has taken control of the House, cautioned the president that he will now face far more oversight from lawmakers and warned that Sessions’ firing and subsequent appointment of loyalist Matthew Whitaker to serve as acting attorney generalhas thrown the nation into a “constitutionally perilous moment.”
“Donald Trump may think he has the power to hire and fire whomever he pleases, but he cannot take such action if it is determined that it is for the purposes of subverting the rule of law and obstructing justice,” said the congressman. “If he abuses his office in such a fashion, then there will be consequences.”
Nadler also called for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe rather than Whitaker, Sessions’ former chief of staff. Whitaker claimed last year that Mueller’s investigation has gone “too far” and explicitly stated that a replacement for Sessions could cause Mueller’s work to “grind to a halt” by reducing the special counsel’s funding.
“Under these conditions, it would be wholly inappropriate for Mr. Whitaker to supervise the Special Counsel investigation given his documented history of opposition to it,” Nadler said, before warning that the Sessions firing would be investigated and warning that documents related to the event must be preserved.
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“We are immediately issuing multiple letters to key officials demanding that they preserve all relevant documents related to this action to make sure that the investigation and any evidence remains safe from improper interference or destruction,” Nadler said. “The American people understand that no person is above the law and have demanded accountability from their government. The firing of Jeff Sessions will be investigated and people will be held accountable.”