Bernie Sanders Says Donald Trump Should Be Impeached if He Interferes With Mueller Probe After Sessions Resignation

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont warned Wednesday President Donald Trump that he would be committing an impeachable offense and obstruction of justice if he tried to interfere in the special counsel's probe of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

The independent Sanders, who has often told Democrats and liberals to pump the brakes on any talk of impeaching Trump, tweeted the remarks hours after the president had forced out now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and made Sessions's chief of staff Matthew Whitaker the country's acting top law enforcement officer.

Whitaker's ascension, as well as his previous comments about Mueller's investigation, led to speculation that Trump had installed a loyalist who could limit the special counsel or outright end a probe that has plagued the president for over 18 months. In an op-ed for CNN published last year, Whitaker suggested Mueller should not be allowed to investigate Trump's finances, fearing it could hurt the president, his family and the country.

"President Trump must allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to continue unimpeded. Any attempt by the president or the Justice Department to interfere with Mueller's probe would be an obstruction of justice and impeachable offense," Sanders tweeted.

The progressive movement leader also called for legislation to protect Mueller's probe, and for Whitaker to recuse himself like Sessions.

"Congress must pass legislation to protect Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, demand that Acting AG Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing the probe based on his previous statements and only confirm a new attorney general who vows to protect Mueller's investigation," Sanders said.

Top Democratic leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, the potential new speaker of the House, have avoided talk of impeachment during midterm campaigning and wanted to focus on health care and economic issues. But with Democrats set to control the House beginning in January, they could launch numerous investigations of the president and his administration.

Impeaching Trump would require a majority vote in the House, something that the Democrats could now manage after taking control of the chamber in Tuesday's midterm elections. However, Pelosi immediately put the breaks on any moves to impeach the president.

Even if Trump were to be impeached by the House, it would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate in order to convict. That is an even more unlikely prospect after the midterms, in which the GOP extended their majority. Republicans are highly unlikely to cross the aisle against a president who wields strong control over the party.

Trump first named Whitaker as Sessions's replacement, for the time being, then thanked the former Alabama senator for his service. However, the president often seethed publicly and privately over Sessions's decision to recuse himself from any investigation into Russia's interference in 2016.

Trump now has an attorney general who has not recused himself and would take over duties of overseeing Mueller's investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The special counsel remained largely silent in the months leading up to Tuesday's midterm elections, following Justice Department protocols on impacting the electoral process.

But just two months ago, Mueller secured a plea agreement with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for conspiracy, illegal lobbying, obstruction of justice and other federal charges.

Mueller had also earned a conviction on bank and tax fraud charges against Manafort in August, ensnaring the longtime Washington power broker as the fourth former member of Trump's campaign to either be convicted or plead guilty in the probe.

bernie sanders donald trump, impeachment
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a ‘Get out the Vote’ campaign event with Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist, in Burlington, Vermont, on November 4. Sanders warned President Donald Trump about interfering in the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Getty Images/Stephanie Keith
Bernie Sanders Says Donald Trump Should Be Impeached if He Interferes With Mueller Probe After Sessions Resignation | U.S.