UPDATE: Congressional Democrats say they are planning actions to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian election meddling from possible efforts by the acting attorney general to undercut it.
    
President Donald Trump appointed a Republican loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general after ousting Jeff Sessions. In the past Whitaker has criticized the Russia probe.
    
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats in the House and Senate are going to attempt "to put on must-pass legislation, mainly the spending bill, legislation that would prevent Whitaker from interfering in any way with the Mueller investigation," Schumer told The Associated Press.
    
The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, New York congressman Jerry Nadler, says protecting the Russia probe will be his committee's top priority.

President Donald Trump is moving to distance himself from Matthew Whitaker as he faces criticism over his choice for acting attorney general.

Trump told reporters Friday "I don't know Matt Whitaker" and said he didn't speak with Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Whitaker has made public comments critical of Mueller's investigation, and critics have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from oversight of the inquiry. Under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the investigation was overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Of the scrutiny Whitaker is facing, Trump said: "It's a shame that no matter who I put in they go after."

He also called Whitaker "a very highly respected man." Whitaker was Sessions' chief of staff before Trump made him Sessions' interim replacement.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said goodbye to his colleagues at the Justice Department one day after resigning at the request of President Trump.

He wrote in a letter that he was proud of the DOJ has done during his time.

Now the president begins his search for a replacement for sessions.

Rumored frontrunners include former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Until then Matthew Whitaker, chief of staff for Sessions is acting AG. He will also oversee the special counsel's probe into Russian meddling which has made Democrats uneasy.

"Mr. Whitaker must not be permitted to supervise this investigation, since he has expressed hostility to it."

With Matt Whitaker taking over the Russia investigation, activists across the country have pledged to protest the decision with one demonstration taking place here in Reno.

Organizers will head to City Plaza at 5 p.m. Thursday to call for Whitaker to recuse himself from the investigation.

Sessions had endured more than a year of stinging and personal criticism from Trump over his recusal from the investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Trump blamed the decision for opening the door to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the Russia investigation and began examining whether Trump's hectoring of Sessions was part of a broader effort to obstruct justice.

In his letter, Sessions says that he’s “honored to serve as Attorney General and have worked to implement the law enforcement agenda based on the rule of law that formed a central part of your campaign for the Presidency.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer says it is "paramount" that the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller be protected by President Trump's new attorney general.

Schumer says he finds the timing of Sessions' departure "very suspect." He says it would spark a "constitutional crisis" if Trump forced out Sessions as a "prelude" to ending or limiting Mueller's investigation.

Trump and Sessions had a falling out after the attorney general recused himself from Mueller's investigation. The president has repeatedly belittled Sessions in public and expressed regret about appointing him.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)