Prior to leaving for Paris, Mr. Trump had an impromptu press interaction and declared he did not know his newly placed Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, who is now overseeing the Mueller probe.
However, this claim by Mr. Trump refutes the very clear record that he does in fact, know Mr. Whitaker. As Eric Tucker and Jonathan Lemire write in the Washington Post:
“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.”
As Mr. Mueller’s new boss, Mr. Whitaker will have discretionary control over Mueller’s budget. Considering Whitaker’s former statements regarding the Mueller investigation, Trump’s replacing Jeff Sessions who had recused himself from the Russia investigation, now has several conservative legal minds wondering whether the move is even constitutional.
Neal Katyal and George T. Conway III, husband of Kellyanne Conway penned an op-ed expressing their concern that “The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation.”
As Katyal and Conway make clear:
“It defies one of the one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power,” they wrote. Because Whitaker has not gone through a confirmation process, they added, “there has been no mechanism for scrutinizing whether he has the character and ability to evenhandedly enforce the law in such a position of grave responsibility.”
Even Fox News Judge Napolitano agrees that “Whitaker is not legally qualified to be the Acting Attorney General.”
Therefore, the question arises: If Mr. Trump does not know Mr. Whitaker as he claimed yesterday, and conservative pundits and legal analysts are stating the unconstitutionality of Trump’s placing him as the Acting Attorney General, why did he claim he does “not know Matt Whitaker?”
Perhaps it is because Mr. Trump is not being forthright?
According to “friends and associates” or Whitaker, Trump and the Acting AG have “forged a close working relationship since Whitaker joined the Department of Justice as Jeff Session’s chief of staff.”
Charles Larson, former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party claims “the President thinks highly of Whitaker.”
Another conservative prosecutor from Iowa, Brenna Bird, who worked at Whitaker’s law firm states “along with Sessions, briefed the president “several times” and that Whitaker has gained Trump’s trust.”
“Obviously, the president has a great deal of trust in him (Whitaker) to put him in charge at this time,” Bird said. “I don’t think President Trump would choose him for this job if he didn’t think he was up to it, and he is.”
Indeed, Mr. Trump should “have a great deal of trust” in Whitaker. After all, it was Mr. Whitaker who has been a vocal critic of the Mueller investigation. In 2017, Whitaker declared there “was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
On June 14, 2017, on The Chris Stigall Show, while discussing the Jeff Sessions hearing regarding then Attorney General Session’s undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, Whitaker made his position clear by stating:
“Democrats continue to conflate the collusion issue, which there is no evidence of, with, with the fact that Russians did try to interfere with the election.“
Regarding his critique of Democrats, Whitaker also doubled-down stating:
“The last thing they want right now is the truth to come out,“ he continued, “and the fact that there’s not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign had any illegal or even improper relationships with the Russians. It’s that simple.”
Whitaker even went so far as to justify the meeting Trump’s son, Donald Junior had with the Russians prior to the election stating, “If you have somebody that you trust that is saying you need to meet with this individual because they have information about your opponent, you would take that meeting,“ he said.”
Furthermore, Whitaker suggested the way to stymie the Mueller investigation was to simply cut off funding for it.
And, as The Hill reports:
“Former White House counsel Don McGahn interviewed Matthew Whitaker, who has since been named Acting attorney general, about joining President Trump‘s legal team last year, The New York Times reports.”
Perhaps this is why Democrats, and in particular, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) expressed grave concerns over Whitaker taking over both Sessions and Rosenstein’s role of supervising the Russia investigation and Robert Mueller, leading Schumer to send a letter to Trump.
Between the several noted dozens of visits by Whitaker to the Oval Office as reported by CNN, Whitaker’s open critique of the Mueller investigation, and Mr. Trump ignoring the line of succession leading to concerns by many in Washington, one can clearly see just why it is that Mr. Trump might not want to admit he knows Mr. Whitaker.
And then there are the sketchy financial dealings which have led to an investigation by the FBI of Mr. Whitaker’s receipt of funds by a patent firm which he was an advisory board member.
Heck, if I were Mr. Trump I would deny knowing Mr. Whitaker too. In the end, it really doesn’t matter if Trump knows or does not know Whitaker. Why?
Because I will bet anything that Robert Mueller does!
Video of Mr. Trump denying knowing Mr. Whitaker:
A social psychologist by day, political analyst and journalist by night, Dr. Mark Bear has built an established audience by printing facts, without click-bait, sensationalism, or hyperbole. He is married to his wife of 34 years, and both he and his wife, Susan, have a Schnauzer named Shadow. Follow along by connecting with Doc on Facebook or Twitter under the handle Dr. Progressive!