Former Attorney General Says Whitaker Appointment 'Confounds Me'

Tuesday, 13 Nov, 2018

Positioned at the corner of a busy intersection, some participants held signs reading "Honk to protect Mueller" while the group occasionally chanted slogans such as "this is what democracy looks like" and "we are the righteous mob - let Mueller do his job".

Sessions sent the message to Justice Department workers on Thursday, a day after he resigned at Trump's request.

Friends and associates of Whitaker, however, say the former Iowa college football star has forged a close working relationship with Trump since joining the Department of Justice (DOJ) last fall as chief of staff to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That contradicted Trump's remarks on Fox News last month, when he called Whitaker "a great guy" and said, "I mean, I know Matt Whitaker".

Whitaker has offered no indication that he will recuse himself. "No one is above supervision", he told the Journal. In the months before, Whitaker was a familiar presence on CNN, where he questioned Mueller's scope and reach.

Separately, Justice Department prosecutors in NY secured a guilty plea from Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who said the president directed him to arrange hush money payments before the 2016 election to two women who said they had sex with Trump.

A federal appeals court that is weighing a legal challenge to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's authority said Friday it wanted to know whether the sudden ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions could impact or change the outcome of how it should rule.

"I think it's important to be as active in our political system as possible, and to show that things that are happening are not okay", said Mary Brewer, a third-year College student who attended the protest. His very first act as head of the Department of Justice was to issue, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, a directive stripping the right to asylum from anyone who enters the United States over the Mexican border and has not first gained legal status-a move that is tantamount to abolishing the right to asylum, which is guaranteed under global and USA law. Likewise, as Chief, I did not know Mr. Whitaker except primarily as he traveled with A.G. Sessions.

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Trump's latest rant comes just two days after he delivered a similarly unhinged performance after his party lost the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, in which he attacked members of his own party who lost their seats because they didn't "embrace" him enough. Now, the task has fallen to Whitaker, and Democrats are demanding that he, too, should recuse himself because of his past criticism of the Mueller investigation. "He's said repeatedly it's going to be allowed to finish".

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who has appeared with Trump at campaign events, has also been floated.

Legal scholars, meanwhile, have debated the constitutionality of Whitaker's appointment, with some lawyers saying it is illegal because Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate. Mueller's team also has been pressing for an interview with Trump.

"Mueller was not Senate confirmed", the president fumed.

"I'm profoundly concerned about it", he said.

CNN followed the Axios story with: "Whitaker backlash prompts concern at the White House", in which it reports, based on anonymous sources, that "there is a growing concern inside the White House over the negative reaction to Matthew Whitaker being tapped as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions' abrupt firing".

It would also be appropriate for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and other Senate Republicans to make public declarations of their respect for the office of the special counsel.