News & Politics

'Unbelievably Unqualified': Democratic Senator Warns Trump-Appointed DOJ Lawyer Tied to a Russian Bank Might Interfere in Mueller's Probe

"He will have visibility into the Mueller investigation."

Photo Credit: FBI

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) issued a serious warning Wednesday about Brian Benczkowski, a lawyer confirmed earlier in the day to run the criminal division of the Department of Justice.

Whitehouse discussed the confirmation with CNN's Erin Burnett, who noted that Benczkowski raised questions because he previously worked for Alfa Bank, the largest bank in Russia which has close ties to President Vladimir Putin — a fact he initially failed to disclose to the Senate on a questionnaire.

"This actually does run up my temperature a bit," Sheldon said, noting that Benczkowski is "unbelievably unqualified" for the role he is taking on.

"As the chief of the criminal division, he will have visibility into the Mueller investigation whenever that investigation needs the requisite approvals from the criminal division for various investigative and prosecutive steps that they must take. And he has the ability to delay or deny the approvals. So he's in a position not just to peer into the Mueller investigation, but also to interfere with it," Whitehouse said.

"It's pretty hard to swallow. I think we've got to watch this like a hawk," Whitehouse said. "I think there's a significant chance that he's there to be a clandestine backchannel, either to the recused attorney general, for whom he worked for years, or to the Trump team."

Watch the clip below: 

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.