It's not clear whether his connections to Sam Clovis, who if friends with Whitaker and has been questioned in the Mueller probe, and with the president would be enough to force his recusal.
Organizers say the naming of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is a "deliberate attempt to obstruct the special counsel's investigation". Several months ago, Republicans warned that were Trump to replace Sessions, the Senate might not get to a successor, but those admonitions have evaporated.
The switch, announced on Trump's Twitter feed, provoked instant consternation across Washington, where politicians from both sides of the aisle have long warned that political interference in Mueller's work can not be tolerated.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said that the acting attorney general - meaning Whitaker - is in charge of "all matters" within the department, including the Russian Federation probe. However, it would be an immediate priority for Democratic investigations when they officially take control of the House in January.
As Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein has been the authority over Mueller's probe, but multiple media outlets are reporting that he has officially been removed from oversight of the investigation.
"Whitaker is much more loyal to Trump than he was to Sessions", veteran political scientist Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute told Newsmax.
No decisions are expected soon, and the list of those being considered - which also includes Rudy Giuliani, outgoing Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and former Attorney General William Barr, who served under President George H.W. Bush - is likely to grow in the coming days, CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports. He also obtained indictments against Russian individuals and companies accused of a sweeping conspiracy to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and ultimately to help Trump win.
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Christie is a longtime friend of President Trump's and endorsed him after dropping out of the 2016 presidential campaign. In pushing out his attorney-general, the President cast aside one of his earliest and strongest supporters.
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The special counsel has also been investigating whether Mr Comey's firing amounted to obstruction of justice.
Here is a look at how Whitaker might stop or slow the Mueller investigation and the risks he might run in doing so. "Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference-regardless of who is AG".
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who months ago warned Trump against firing Sessions, met with the President Thursday and said he had "confidence" Whitaker would do a professional job 'in this position'.
Can Whitaker be forced to recuse himself? Shortly after, the White House took the extremely rare measure of revoking Acosta's press pass. And he's one step closer to being able to do just that.
After recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe, the staunchly conservative Sessions spent his time ramping up efforts to combat violent gangs, drug use and illegal immigration - all key components of Trump's law-and-order agenda.
He bolstered the agenda of Trump's evangelical supporters with new rules letting employers opt out of providing health insurance that covers birth control and paving the way for religious businesses and employees to discriminate based on their closely held beliefs.