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Sen. Coons pushes again for vote on his bill protecting special counsel

Delaware Public Media

Sen. Chris Coons is voicing his concerns about the new acting U.S. Attorney General.

President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this week - the day after the midterm elections.

He named Matthew Whitaker acting AG instead of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has been overseeing the special counsel’s probe into Russian election interference.

Coons says he’s concerned Whitaker might try to interfere with the investigation - and next week plans to push for a vote on his legislation to protect the special counsel from being fired.

“I was making calls last night to colleagues to see whether or not there’s the appetite to do it," he said. "I’m certainly encouraged by the initial public comments by Sen. (Susan) Collins, Sen. (Lamar) Alexander, Sen.-elect (Mitch) Romney and Sen. (Jeff) Flake.”

Whitaker has publicly defended Trump’s presidential campaign against claims it colluded with Russia. He has said the investigation should not look at Trump’s finances and suggested trying to slow it down by slashing the special counsel’s budget. He also defended members of Trump’s campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer and others.

Coons said he’s troubled that Trump did not follow normal succession order and appoint Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein acting AG.

“I’m concerned that Matthew Whitaker, given statements he made a year ago, will try quickly to rein in or interfere with Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation,” he said.

Retiring GOP Sen. Flake of Arizona says he will try to force a floor vote on Coons’ bill. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he won’t allow a vote, adding it’s not necessary because Trump won’t fire the special counsel.

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