Schumer and Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to become House speaker next year, called on Whitaker to recuse himself, with Schumer citing "his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation". "The fact that (Trump) passed over Rod Rosenstein to appoint someone else who's been critical certainly raises concerns".
Spats between Trump and journalists can sometimes seem circus-like, but critics say the president's hot temper illustrates his deeper disdain for Washington norms - and allegedly for the law. "Trump's attempt to be his own judge and jury is inconsistent with the rule of law and democracy". Clovis, who later worked in Trump's presidential campaign, has been interviewed as part of Mueller's Russian Federation probe. And the department is expected to receive a confidential report of Mueller's findings, though it's unclear how much will be public.
Susan Collins, the Republican senator from ME, and one of the party's more moderate elected politicians, also praised Mr Sessions, saying he was "a leader of integrity who served our country well".
On Thursday, the Acosta incident entered even more freaky territory when the White House was accused of tweeting a video doctored to make the reporter appear more aggressive in fending off the female press aide who tried to remove his mic.
"There is no case for obstruction of justice because the president has all the power of the executive and delegates that to people like the Federal Bureau of Investigation director and the attorney general", Whitaker argued. The undated letter was then sent to the White House.
Rosenstein has been overseeing the Mueller probe after Sessions recused himself from the investigation, but a Department of Justice spokeswoman said Whitaker would be "in charge of all matters under the purview" of the DOJ.
Rosenstein remains at the department and could still be involved in oversight.
Prosecutors are also waiting for Mr. Trump's legal team to return answers to Mr. Mueller's questions, CNN said.More news: Uganda starts Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers
Trump originally said he fired Comey on the recommendation of Sessions and Rosenstein for mishandling the inquiry into Clinton's use of private email when she was secretary of state, although the president later acknowledged he acted because of Comey's pursuit of "this Russian Federation thing".
Recent acting and permanent attorneys general have been longtime government lawyers or high-ranking politicians with more experience navigating Washington than Whitaker.
In the House of Representatives, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee - which Democrats will control from January - sounded the alarm.
In an interview with CNN in 2017, he argued that the inquiry could be kneecapped if the attorney general "just reduces his budget so low that the investigation grinds nearly to a halt". Mueller is probing Russia's interference in the 2016 election, whether Trump or any of his associates conspired in the meddling, and whether Trump obstructed justice. Clovis had run for the Senate as well and later worked on Trump's presidential campaign. They held signs saying "Truth Must Triumph" and "Repeal, Replace Trump".
He also announced media leak crackdowns and tougher policies against opioids, and his Justice Department defended a since-abandoned administration policy that resulted in migrant parents being separated from their children at the border. "We can insist documents be preserved and demand the recusal of Mr. Whitaker who has demonstrated a pretty clear conflict of interest".
Never in modern history has a president attacked a Cabinet member as frequently and harshly in public as Trump did Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama and one of the first members of Congress to back Trump's presidential campaign in 2015.
Whitaker is expected to assume oversight of Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.
Trump has told confidants he remains deeply annoyed by the 18-month-old Mueller probe, believing it is not just a "witch hunt" but an expensive and lengthy negative distraction.