02:09 GMT +321 March 2019
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    Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Matthew Whitaker attends a roundtable discussion with foreign liaison officers at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., August 29, 2018.

    US Senator Schumer Urges Justice Department to Probe Whitaker

    © REUTERS / Allison Shelley
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Department of Justice should open an investigation into communications between acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and the White House, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter addressed to Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Tuesday.

    "Recent reports regarding Mr Whitaker’s unusual history of contacts with the White House give rise to serious concerns about whether he has engaged in communications intended undermine or obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, or otherwise may have been in violation of law or policy," Schumer said.

    Schumer pointed out that his most pressing concern is about whether Whitaker has shared, or could share, confidential grand jury or investigative information from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with the White House. Any such unauthorized disclosure may implicate criminal contempt of court or obstruction of justice, Schumer, who submitted a total of six questions, said.

    On Monday, three Democratic Senators filed a lawsuit to challenge Trump’s appointment of Whitaker as US Attorney General, alleging that the president violated the Constitution’s appointments clause.

    READ MORE: Mueller Critic Whitaker Has 'No Concerns' About Russia Probe — Sen. Graham

    The lawsuit followed the November 7 resignation of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Trump's request and the subsequent announcement by the president, saying that Whitaker would fill that role until a permanent replacement is found.

    Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns about Whitaker’s impact on the investigation of the Special Counsel, who is probing allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as possible coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

    Reacting to these concerns, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion stating that the naming of Whitaker is within accepted practices as per US law and is in accordance with the US Constitution.

    READ MORE: US Justice Dept. Issues Legal Opinion on Whitaker Amid Dem's Probe

    Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, insisting that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Trump and the White House have also repeatedly denied allegations of collusion.

    probe, US Department of Justice, Chuck Schumer, Matthew Whitaker
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