For more than a year, President Donald Trump has lamented Jeff Sessions' decision to refrain from supervising the special adviser Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign.
But in the wake of Sessions' departure from the Justice Department, the president has the opportunity to appoint an attorney general who can take control of Mueller's controversial and politically polarized probe, which Trump has repeatedly dismissed as a "Witch Hunt" ".
Mueller and his team of prosecutors are already writing a final report, according to various sources, as reported by ABC News this week. But as the growing list of potential candidates for Trump's place emerges, ABC News has taken a closer look at what the job leaders have said about Robert Mueller and his survey.
Deputy Attorney General Matthew Whitaker
Since his appointment as attorney general in office earlier this week, Whitaker's past criticism of the investigation into Russia has been widely reported and examined.
A former CNN analyst, Matthew Whitaker, has publicly and repeatedly expressed his concerns about Mueller's broad mandate to investigate members of Trump's close circle and cast doubt on the alleged wrongdoings committed by Trump's campaign.
"I have prosecuted several financial crimes at the federal level and I have also defended a lot in my private studies. I can only understand this point of view as a motivated public prosecutor, in a broad survey of high-profile financial affairs individuals, can become too much zealous towards the goals of such probes – with disastrous results, "wrote Whitaker in an August 2017 editorial for CNN. "While no one is above the law, in situations like this, every expert public prosecutor must use discretion both with judgment and with competence".
"It is time that Rosenstein, who is the attorney general in charge of the purposes of this investigation, orders Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him as a special advisor," added Whitaker.
In June 2017, less than a month after the appointment of Mueller as a special consultant, Whitaker went further in a radio interview at the Wilkow Majority Show.
"The truth is that there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign," Whitaker said at the show.
Whitaker's appointment as attorney general meant that congressional Democrats – and even some moderate Republicans – demanded their reuse from oversight of investigations. Those calls have so far been ignored.
The Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani
As President Trump's personal attorney specializing in the special adviser's probe, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani had a front row position for investigations in Russia.
Since joining Trump's legal team in April, Giuliani has been a staunch supporter of the deployed president, repeating Trump's characterization of Mueller's probe as a "witch hunt" and "the most corrupt investigation" " I've ever seen. Giuliani has repeatedly stated that there was no collusion.
"Everything released so far shows that the president is absolutely innocent, he did nothing wrong," Giuliani told "Fox and Friends" in July.
Giuliani led the charge of asking for a quick end to Mueller's investigation.
"If he does not do it in the next two or three weeks, we'll unload it like a ton of bricks," Giuliani said in an interview with Bloomberg News in August. "Write the damn relationship so we can see it and reject it."
As part of his role in Trump's legal team, Giuliani is helping write written answers to Mueller's team questions, sources told ABC News.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
As a primary presidential rival, then a first supporter and surrogate of the Trump campaign, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is now a contributor to ABC News, had his ups and downs with the president.
Christie's public praise for Mueller, however, was consistent.
"Mueller, himself, is not a partisan, he's an honest guy, a hard-working man," Christie said during a language meeting at the University of Chicago at the start of this year. "It's clever and it can not be argued that the survey has not been effective so far."
On the contrary, Christie has criticized Trump's repeated attacks on Mueller.
"I gave [Trump] this advice has always been: in an investigation like this there is no way to make it shorter, but there are many ways to make it longer – and the way you do it for longer is to keep talking. " , Christie said on ABC News "" This week "in August. "Just stop talking, just stop."
Christie met Trump and his councilors at the White House on Thursday, sources said, where he had a previous scheduled meeting on prison reform with Trump's son-in-law and senior counselor Jared Kushner.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Expected to assume the role of president of the Senate Judicial Commission in the new Congress. Instead, Trump's confidant emerged as a legitimate candidate to take over the Justice Department. For months, Graham led the charge in demanding the nomination of a second special adviser to investigate the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Graham raised ethical questions about the Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, for investigating the president while his wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for an opposition research firm that produced a controversial dossier at the time Trump candidate. Both Bruce and Nellie Ohr were called to testify before congressional committees that continue to investigate allegations of prejudice to the FBI and the DOJ.
In August, Graham said at an event hosted by the Greenville County Republican Party that he told the president he had found "zero evidence" of Trump's collusion with Russia, according to NBC News.
Graham, however, repeatedly advised Trump to end the investigation, saying the move would damage the Republican party in the midterms.
"I told the president this: I promise you will be treated fairly, I promise you that the people who conducted the Clinton investigation into the tank will also have their day," Graham said.
On Friday, Graham told WLTX, a CBS Columbia affiliate, that he has no interest in being an attorney general and that he does not look forward to sustaining a "highly qualified replacement" that he expects the president to appoint soon. Graham added that it is not necessary to worry about the investigation of Mueller and that "he will be allowed to finish his work".
Attorney General of Florida Pam Bondi
Trump's long ally, Bondi was considered for the position of the Justice Department during the transition, sources told ABC News. And with his tenure as Florida attorney general ending in January, he may be able to become the nation's next major police officer.
In the wake of the revelations that former FBI investigator Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page were exchanging anti-Trump text messages during the campaign, Bondi suggested that Mueller's investigations were stained with partisan reasons.
"[Mueller’s team] it must be dissolved, and must be investigated, "Bondi told Sean Hannity of Fox News in late 2017." This team must be wiped out ".
Strzok was fired by Mueller's team after text messages were discovered.
At the end of that segment on Fox News, Bondi agreed with Hannence's sentiment that Mueller's investigation "will be worse than Watergate."
Member of the Republican Congress John Ratcliffe
President Trump often relies on home Republicans to defend him on Capitol Hill, and Republican John Ratcliffe has been a loyal front line soldier.
Ratcliffe, a Texan Republican who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, made no secret of his concerns with the appointment of Mueller, often broadcasting them on Fox News and other cable channels.
"Bob Mueller does not run the Justice Department," Ratcliffe stated on Fox News in May. "He reports to the deputy attorney general, not vice versa."
Ratcliffe also questioned Mueller's broad mandate, accusing the probe of being "a bit far from what Bob Mueller was accused of doing".
But despite his frequent criticism of the special adviser, Ratcliffe has stopped asking for the dismissal of Mueller.
"I would not recommend it [Trump] I dismiss Bob Mueller as a special advisor, although I was not in favor of appointing a special advisor at that time, "Ratcliffe told CNN in April." Mueller should be allowed to follow the mandate given to him. I wish it were not so broad – but I think at this point the Americans have enough confidence that Bob Mueller will deliver. "
The former US Attorney General William Barr
The presidents' assistants have raised the idea of the former attorney general resuming his post in the Justice Department, sources told ABC News this week.
While William Barr often wrote about those involved in the investigation, he remained neutral about the legitimacy of Mueller's probe.
At one point, Barr challenged the political affiliations of those of Mueller's team, telling the Washington Post in July 2017 that "prosecutors who make political contributions identify strongly enough with a political party."
Barr was referring to reports on the Post that eight Mueller prosecutors had donated to Democrats in the past.