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A former top Senate staffer for Attorney General Jeff Sessions is nearing confirmation to head the Justice Department's Criminal Division. Should his appointment worry people who want to protect the special counsel's independence?The leading skeptic about Benczkowski's nomination is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a Judiciary Committee member who voted against Benczkowski in the 11-10 party-line vote that sent his nomination to the floor in January. Whitehouse, a former U.S. attorney, worries that as Criminal Division chief, Benczkowski could have a "window" on the Mueller investigation.That letter acknowledged that Benczkowski might consult with Mueller, as he could with a U.S. attorney.Boyd stressed that Mueller's boss would be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (because of Sessions' recusal), but he left room for Benczkowski to advise.Benczkowski wouldn't comment publicly, because of the pending vote on his nomination.
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