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White House: Russia Probe 'Will Continue' After Sessions' Departure

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller (file photo)
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller (file photo)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election will continue despite the change in leadership at the Justice Department, the White House says.

Spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on November 8 that "this is a continuum -- the Mueller investigation will continue."

The comments come a day after President Donald Trump forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, raising concerns of Democratic leaders about the future of Mueller’s probe, which Trump has called "disgraceful" and "very bad" for the country.

Sessions had recused himself from overseeing the probe that is also investigating any ties between Russian figures and Trump's campaign. Sessions served with the Trump campaign before heading the Justice Department.

As Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein has had authority over Mueller's probe.

But Trump named Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, to become the acting attorney general, allowing him to oversee the Mueller probe.

Whitaker, a former Republican politician, has publicly called for limits on the investigation, leading many Democrats to demand he also recuse himself from probe-related matters.

Asked if Trump had told Whitaker to shut down the probe, spokeswoman Conway told reporters outside the White House that the "president hasn't instructed him to do anything" beyond serve as acting attorney general.

Moscow denies meddling in U.S. elections, while Trump has repeatedly said there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election a "headache for our American counterparts," but he declined to comment on Sessions’ departure, saying, “It has nothing to do with us."

Based on reporting by dpa and AP