President Donald Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker—who'd previously expressed doubts about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation—has raised concerns that the president plans to shut it down, using Whitaker as a proxy.
In a statement published Tuesday, 400 former Justice Department officials expressed their alarm about Whitaker's position as acting attorney general.
"We, the undersigned, are proud alumni of the United States Department of Justice. We have served under Senate-confirmed Attorneys General who come from both political parties," they wrote.
"Because of our respect for our oaths of office and our personal experiences carrying out the Department’s mission, we are disturbed by the President’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker to serve as Acting Attorney General," they added.
They pointed to the essential role the Attorney General plays in US democracy.
"The Attorney General is responsible for ensuring that we are a nation of laws and that every citizen and every government official — including the President himself — is equally subject to those laws," they said. "Because of the profound responsibilities the position entails and the independence it requires, it can only be filled by someone who has been subjected to the strictest scrutiny under the process required by the Constitution."
As Buzzfeed first reported, already 400 names have been added to the list. It will be updated with new names as other officials are likely to sign on.