Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been assured by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that he will not fire special counsel Robert Mueller, according to The Hill.
Graham and Whitaker met Thursday afternoon in the Senator's Russel Building office, where Whitaker - who replaced ousted AG Jeff Sessions, said he doesn't see anything wrong with Mueller's probe.
“As to the Mueller investigation, I’m confident that it is not in jeopardy,” Graham said following their meeting, adding that Whitaker doesn't think that Mueller's probe has exceeded any DOJ guidelines.
"There’s no reason to fire him. I asked him, ‘Do you have any reason to [fire] Mr. Mueller? He said he has zero reason to believe anything is being done wrong with the Mueller investigation," said Graham, recalling the conversation.
"There’s a regular-order process where the special counsel makes requests to the deputy attorney general and the attorney general. That’s the way the system works," added Graham, who explained that Mueller has obtained the necessary signatures from various senior Justice Department officials throughout various stages of his investigation.
Graham has co-authored legislation that would protect the special counsel from being fired without good cause.
The bill codifies existing Department of Justice regulations requiring that a special counsel only be fired with proper justification by a senior Senate-confirmed Justice Department official.
Trump appointed Whitaker to replace Sessions the day after the midterm elections. He has not undergone Senate confirmation to the position. -The Hill
Whitaker's appointment has received massive backlash from Democrats, who have pointed to comments he has made regarding the scope of Mueller's investigation - seemingly in stark contrast to what he has told Graham.
In a Sunday letter signed by Democratic lawmakers Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler, Dianne Feinstein, Adam Schiff, Mark Warner and Elijah Cummings, Whitaker should be disqualified from taking control of the special counsel investigation over comments he made in June and July, 2017.
NEW: Top congressional Democrats request to know if Justice Dept. ethics officers have advised acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. https://t.co/CuGul8hbBl pic.twitter.com/GWm6WU1p8P— ABC News (@ABC) November 12, 2018
"Mr. Whitaker has a history of hostile statements toward Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, including televised statements suggesting the investigation be defunded or subjected to strict limitations in scope," reads the letter, pointing first to a June 9, 2017 statement by Whitaker during an appearance on a radio show in which he said "There is no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had here. The evidence is weak. No reasonable prosecutor would bring a case."
Then, in a July 26, 2017 statement, Whitaker said that he "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 that his investigations grinds almost to a halt."
The letter goes on to note that Whitaker has referred to the special counsel investigation as "a mere witch hunt," as well as an opinion article he wrote entitled "Mueller's Investigation of Trump Is Going Too Far."