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Meet Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, a Critic of the Mueller Investigation

by Axios | Updated on 11.8.18

President Trump has tapped Justice Department chief of staff Matthew Whitaker over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to serve as acting attorney general in the wake of Jeff Sessions' resignation until a permanent replacement is made.

Why it matters: The DOJ oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential Russian collusion during the 2016 elections. Traditionally, the Senate-confirmed deputy attorney general, in this case Rod Rosenstein, would step in as acting Attorney General in the event of a top vacancy. Trump has instead chosen his own pick, which is likely to raise questions about whether the White House seeks to have Whitaker take a more hard-lined stance on the investigation. Whittaker has spoken unfavorably about the investigation, writing in a CNN op-ed last year that the investigation was "going too far" and risked becoming a "mere witch hunt" if Mueller began looking into Trump's finances.

The background: Whitaker was formerly a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and ran for Senate in Iowa in 2014, but lost in a primary to Joni Ernst. He played college football at the University of Iowa, where he also played tight end and went to the Rose Bowl, according to the New York Times.

  • Whitaker is considered a Trump loyalist, and "has served as what one White House aide called a 'balm' on the relationship between the president and the Justice Department," the New York Times' Katie Benner and Maggie Haberman have reported.
  • White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has called Whitaker the White House's " eyes and ears" into the DOJ, per the Times.
  • He's been floated before — as a replacement for Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and White House counsel Don McGahn.

What to watch: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already called for Whitaker's recusal from the Mueller probe. We're likely to see more of this from Democrats who will soon gain the power of subpoena in the House, as they won the majority last night, and are expected to launch a slew of investigations of their own into Trump and Russia relations.

Axios

Written by Axios

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(52)
  • Khan
    11/08/2018
    ···

    An FBI agent made a comment about Trump and that was considered to be a bias and he was removed from the investigation. So, with the same the acting AG has shown great bias against the current investigation and should be removed from the investigation completely and should not have any relationship with the investigation - decision, financial or anything else. My request to my legislators is not to be double standard and act on making sure the biased person is removed, regardless of party affiliation.

    Like (19)
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  • Christine
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Mr. Whitaker, must recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation or face possible obstruction of justice criminal charges. His views on the investigation are public and his to Sam Clovis, who brought us George Papadopolous are well known. This reeks of trump-pence corruption.

    Like (12)
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  • Nicholas
    Voted Happy
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Let him do his job.🤠

    Like (1)
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  • James
    Voted Apathetic
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Looks like the Special Counsel needs to get it in gear before it’s too late.

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  • Andy1
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    The attorney general must be someone approved by the senate even on an interim basis. This is an illegal appointment

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  • Robert
    11/08/2018
    ···

    As John Dean said this was planned like a murder

    Like (9)
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  • Ronald
    Voted Happy
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Give The the Man a chance to do his job. The Mueller Witch Hunt should end. The Special Counsel laws was, and is a very bad idea. It was bad with Nixon, Clinton, and Now. It must be repealed.

    Like (1)
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  • BacktotheRight
    Voted Apathetic
    11/08/2018
    ···

    This mueller thing just needs to get a move on already. If trump screwed around ok, great, now prove it. Otherwise all this hot air on the news just makes things annoying and sound like partisan whining.

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  • Dara
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    This individual is a partisan. We need law enforcement agents not political tentacles of the executive branch.

    Like (10)
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  • Andy1
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    The attorney general must be someone approved by the senate even on an interim basis. This is an illegal appointment

    Like (4)
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  • Robert
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    He should be recused for opining on Mueller earlier and the Florida Scam link. How dumb does our Fed. Gov. have to be/get before any “CHECKS & BALANCES?

    Like (4)
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  • Linda
    11/08/2018
    ···

    It was obvious planned in advance. Congress must prevent an attorney general who’s more loyal to the president than to the constitution. DOJ must be an independent agency. No man is above our laws. Mueller’s investigation must be protected just as any other investigation that is resulting in convictions. Bring ethics back to government.

    Like (4)
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  • Kodiwodi
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    I’d be happy to meet him when he’s being properly vetted for any position within the DOJ besides the temporary AG by the Senate and is not being shoved down my throat in an obvious attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation and subvert the laws and customs of this country. Next in line for that position would have been Rod Rosenstein. Everyone knows that and no one will forget get it in this poor sequel to Nixon’s Massacre.

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  • ConservativeGuy
    11/08/2018
    ···

    People have opinions. Problem?

    Like (3)
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  • Noelani
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Hey legislators! Can you explain to me how this is legal? What happened to checks and balance? What is the point of you if you do not do your part to make sure the law is upheld?

    Like (2)
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  • Sharon
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    This is just another action by Trump to obstruct an investigation he wants to control & stop. Again, if he’s as innocent as he says he should just let it continue. As a retired LEO, he sure does act like a person with something to hide. Even if it’s his family that are culpable, let him pardon them after the investigation. I’m sure, after all that his followers have given him a pass for, they’ll give him a pass for pardoning his family.

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  • Donna
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    STOP THIS ADMINISTRATION BEFORE IT COMPLETELY DESTROYS THE RULE OF LAW in this country. Your silence indicates complicity and approval of this action. That makes you as corrupt as the man sitting in the Oval Office. Welcome to your legacy! Americans should not accept or condone this transparent abuse of power and that includes OUR elected officials. January is too late. FIX THIS NOW!!!!!!!

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  • We-r-watching
    Voted Happy
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Hopefully this temp AG will actually do the job Sessions didn't or couldn't seem to do. Dem's want to complain everything they don't like will cause a constutional crisis. President Trump needs to get DOJ squared away ASAP. Let Dem's whine all they want. They will do so anyway.

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  • Marc
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    This guy should be recused on the mueller investigation since he has publicly stated his bias on this issue. Also, why wasn’t rosenstein elevated to director?

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  • verymary
    11/08/2018
    ···

    Donald Trump has moved his enthusiastic lackey into place. The Mueller investigation, thanks to a whatever-you-say-Mr.-President Senate, is the target. So much for laws and ethics!

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  • Lance
    Voted Happy
    11/08/2018
    ···

    After two plus years of investigation and nothing has been found connecting the president to any Russian involvement Time to shut down the investigation

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  • Paulette
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
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    He needs to recuse himself

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  • Troy
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    I want Mueller’s investigation protected and I want to see this presidents tax returns.

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  • Dana
    Voted Sad
    11/08/2018
    ···

    We need to have an impartial AG to oversee the Muller investigation. Whitaker is not impartial.

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