WASHINGTON – Democrats are wasting no time announcing their priorities when they take over the House of Representatives come January.
Number one on their agenda is challenging acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who's been in the headlines ever since President Donald Trump tapped him to temporarily replace the ousted Jeff Sessions.
Democrats say Whitaker should recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe – especially in light of his past comments about the investigation.
Appearing on a CNN panel before becoming chief of staff for then-Attorney General Sessions, Whitaker said, "I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget too so low that his investigation grinds to a halt."
US Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), future chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has already announced plans to hold hearings on Whitaker's appointment.
"Our very first witness on – after January 3 – we will subpoena or we will summon, if necessary, subpoena Mr. Whitaker," Nadler told CNN's "State of the Union."
Nadler insists that Whitaker's appointment is an "attack" by the Trump administration on Mueller's investigation.
"It's part of a pattern of interference by the president and part of a pattern of obstruction of that – attempt of obstruction of that investigation," Nadler charged.
"And that investigation is very important to assure the rule of law and to assure that we know what happened when the Russians attempted to subvert our election with the alleged complicity of people in the Trump campaign," he said.
And some charge Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional because he's not been approved by the Senate.
"It does violence to the Constitution and the vision of our founders to appoint such a person in such a manner to be the chief legal officer in our country," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) argued. "And that's bipartisan."
But Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway says the president's lawyers approved it. "The Democrats don't seem to begin or end a sentence these days without having the word crisis in it," Conway told reporters last week. "Matt Whitaker has been chief of staff for over a year."
Meanwhile, Nadler and fellow Democrats also have their sights set on the president himself regarding hush payments to two women during the 2016 campaign who claim to have had affairs with him.
"Well, it may be an impeachable offense if it goes to the question of the president procuring his office through corrupt means," Nadler told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
He explained that it "depends on whether the situation is serious enough that it makes sense to do an impeachment to defend the … system of government and the system of democracy."
In addition, Democrats are also planning to take a closer look at the president's dealings with the media – specifically, his alleged targeting of CNN and The Washington Post, news organizations notorious for their consistently negative coverage of the Trump administration.
They'll investigate whether or not the president used "instruments of power to punish the press," incoming House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told "Axios on HBO."
Schiff claimed Trump "was secretly meeting with the postmaster [general] in an effort to browbeat the postmaster [general] into raising postal rates on Amazon."
"This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish… The Washington Post," Schiff said.