Acting Attorney General Whitaker Shrinks From Previous Comments About Russia Probe

Acting Attorney General Whitaker Shrinks From Previous Comments About Russia Probe November 12, 2018

Newly named acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker came under an intense amount of heat last week, as politicos reacted to the forced resignation of his former boss, Jeff Sessions.

Sessions was an obedient lackey to Donald Trump from early in his candidacy, and also through the first two years of his presidency, except on a single issue –

The Russia probe.

Sessions recused himself in the early months of 2017, after it was discovered that he had his own communications with Russian officials during the lead up to the 2016 election. Whether he did anything wrong or not, he didn’t bother to mention those communications while going through his confirmation process, and the optics, given everything else surrounding Trump’s team, were just ugly.

His recusal opened the door for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller, a move that infuriated the new president, and he has used Sessions as a punching bag, ever since. No amount of acquiescence on any other issue would appease the petulant man-baby in the Oval Office.

As I’ve mentioned before, on the one hand, I have little to no sympathy for Sessions. He signed on for it. On the other hand, however, he tried to remain diligent and upright in his duties as attorney general. He just didn’t realize he was a small fish swimming in a festering cesspool of corruption and ignorance.

So, enter Whitaker, a man with little, to no real background that would make him top option to replace Sessions.

His sole qualification, by every indication, is that he has been openly critical of the Russia probe and Robert Mueller’s work, publicly mapping out a strategy to shut it down and kill the work currently being done to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Donald Trump is vehemently opposed to his relationship with our nation’s greatest geopolitical foe being interrupted or made open to examination, and he will use the offices of his administration to meet that end.

Part of Whitaker’s plan to stop Robert Mueller has included limiting funding, which would slow the investigation down, considerably.

In a July 2017 interview on CNN, he said that Mueller didn’t have to be fired. He just had to have his budget cut so tight that the investigation would “grind to a halt.”

To date, the investigation has cost taxpayers about $16 million.

For comparison, taxpayers spent over $50 million on golfing trips for Trump in his first 13 months in office.

Priorities.

The instant outrage of appointing Whitaker as acting attorney general was enough to send President Trump into immediate lie mode, claiming he didn’t even know Whitaker.

The reality is, he’s met Whitaker multiple times.

The outrage of Whitaker in the position of AG has also been enough to spark “Protect Mueller” protests in cities around the nation, and now Whitaker is backtracking on his previous position, regarding funding for the probe.

Whitaker’s telling associates he won’t follow that course now that he has the job, but will allow Mueller’s probe to continue. It’s unclear how close Mueller is to wrapping up his work as he faces growing calls from President Donald Trump and other Republicans to finish quickly.

The reports that have come out in recent days are that Mueller is preparing his final report, and that only a few loose ends remain.

One of those loose ends includes interviewing the president.

Trump’s legal team have been given written questions to answer, but discussion of an actual face-to-face meeting between Trump and Mueller has yet to be resolved.

It’s unclear to what degree Whitaker could shut off funds for Mueller. The special counsel’s budget for fiscal 2019 has already been approved by the Justice Department.

Mueller’s team is paid for under a permanent fund for investigations by independent counsels that was established in 1998, which means it’s not subject to Congress’s routine spending debates. Mueller’s budget isn’t affected by a current stopgap spending measure that expires on Dec. 9.

What we must recognize first is that it is unlikely either Trump or Whitaker knew that.

Whitaker is a Trump loyalist, not a policy expert.

Secondly, if it appears Whitaker is unable or unwilling to run the risk of acting against Mueller, there’s always the possibility Trump may do something on his own, out of desperation.

To date, he has stated that he has no intention of stopping the probe, but it can’t be missed that he forced out his first and most loyal supporter because of his unwillingness to act against the ongoing probe.

We’ll have to stay tuned.

 

 

 

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  • JASmius

    1) Mueller cannot be “hurried” by Trump and his Redcap surrogates. He’ll finish when he’s finished, and not before.

    2) I speculated just yesterday over at The Resurgent about the possibility that once Whitaker saw all the evidence that Mueller’s team has gathered proving beyond any doubt that the Russians did try to subvert the 2016 election that the Trump campaign welcomed their assistance, he might change his tune if he has so much as a single iota of integrity and humility. This might be that, or it may be that he’s fleeing the kitchen because of the unexpected heat. Neither will please Trump, which helps explain why he suddenly “doesn’t know” the same protege over whom he was gushing just a month ago,

    3) The angle about this whole thing I haven’t heard anybody talking about is how Jeff Sessions was dutifully and aggressively pushing the alleged “Trump agenda” at DOJ and how Whitaker has to be far less capable of keeping that agenda moving forward, given reports that nobody there has any respect for him or takes him at all seriously. It’s very revealing about what Trump’s priorities truly are. He had an A-G that was as loyal in pursuing “his” policies (on immigration, law enforcement policy, etc.) as Eric “The Red” Holder was to/for Barack Obama. If Trump really cared about those policies and their promulgation, one would think that would have at least mitigated his personal pique at Sessions not reflexively and corruptly protecting him from the consequences of his scandals. And yet the only thing that kept Sessions around as long as he was was a fear of negatively impacting the midterms, and the very next morning he got the bum’s rush. The alleged “Trump agenda” will suffer for it, but the president doesn’t care a whit about that next to making accountability and the rule of law go away. It makes me wonder how many years it will take for Trumpies to finally realize AND admit that.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    So (like Trump) Whitaker will say whatever he has to to get the job he (apparently) covets – at least until he can get his hands on the power to shut down Mueller in service to his orange Baboon-King Trump.

    This backtracking on his previous statements when it looks like those statements may actually have consequences he does not want to face is just not believable.

    O/T: Susan, what happened to your article on “Ethical Pornography” that appears to have disappeared ? Were you required to remove it ? If so, can you tell us why ? Was it an just an technical glitch or did you have some other reason to “disappear” the article ?

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I believe your post is spot on with the exception of Whitaker seeing evidence that changes his mind. As Chief of Staff to Sessions, he would likely have been charged with monitoring Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller on Session’s behalf in order to keep Sessions appraised of any potential fallout while providing distance between Sessions and the actual details of the probe.
    I believe Whitaker is more likely to have made his about-face in the hopes of fooling Congress into confirming him for the job or to placate Congress and buy time for him to shut Mueller down before Congress becomes aware of what he is up to.

    I do not believe Trump actually has an agenda that is coherent enough for anyone to “make progress” on. From your post, you do not appear to believe so either.

    It makes me wonder how many years it will take for Trumpies to finally realize AND admit that.

    They will admit that when one of the following occurs:
    (A) Trump is out of office and the next president starts quoting the “Trump agenda” as reasons for why he is following the liberal agendas of Pelosi and Schumer or
    (B) Trumponomics throws us back into an official recession or actual depression or
    (C) Trump’s abusive rhetoric and incompetent negotiating techniques cause the dollar to be revoked as the world reserve currency and our trading partners to permanently move their purchases to other suppliers or
    (D) Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and red-capper base (like the brownshirts before them) manage to start a shooting war with the left-wing radicals, that becomes a 2nd civil war.

  • WW

    Trump is taking a page out of John Kerry’s playbook. Remember when Kerry said he voted against this legislation before he voted for it.
    Well trump knew Whitaker before he didn’t know him.

  • JASmius

    >>I believe Whitaker is more likely to have made his about-face in the hopes of fooling Congress into confirming him for the job or to placate Congress and buy time for him to shut Mueller down before Congress becomes aware of what he is up to.<<

    Or, as I said, "fleeing the kitchen because of the unexpected heat." Senate confirmation is unlikely, given Trump's already running away from Whitaker and his own numerous shady connections. He wasn't appointed as a permanent replacement for Sessions anyway; just a temp to make the kamikaze run at taking out the biggest threat (besides himself) to the Trump presidency. And I really do think that Congress is already more than aware of what Trump is up to with this dubious appointment.

  • JASmius

    A, B, and C are variations on the same theme of Trump’s political star waning hard enough to even get his own drones’ and hostages’ attention. That’s simply the nature of politics. Party leaders lose their clout as time goes on, all the faster if their policies and temperament produce PR disasters. The party itself moves on eventually and will adhere to the policies and traits of the next successful leader. That’s why there will be a wave of “recovering Trumpies” two and a half years from now who will have the scales magically fall from their eyes and start calling out Trump for what he is and how it crippled the GOP and how they knew that all along but went along with it for the good of the party, etc., etc.,etc. It’ll all be crap, because the audio and video will be there forever, discrediting an entire generation of GOP leaders with the unscrubbable Trump stench, but they’ll try to distance themselves nonetheless.

    D is unlikely along the lines of what the late George Carlin used to say about flamethrowers: “Did you know that the Army has all the flamethrowers? I’d say we’re screwed if we have to go up against the Army.” The Army also has nukes as well. Even the optics of it – essentially an American Tianenmen Square massacre – would make it unimaginable that any U.S. authorities would carry out such orders, even if Trump went so far as to issue them.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Agreed on all points. (I took your comment on “fleeing the kitchen…” as “running away from the controversy rather than facing it” rather than “placate Congress (stall for time) in order to terminate the Mueller probe before being kicked to the curb”, but either way works….

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Can ANYONE appointed by Trump be trusted to actually do their jobs in an honorable fashion ? Or has Trump’s humiliation of Sessions caused all his appointees to tuck tail and kiss the ring ?

    After the last 2 years, I cannot vote for Republicans ever again if this is the type of “leadership”, “judgement” and “backbone” they show when challenged.

  • chemical

    The alleged “Trump agenda” will suffer for it, but the president doesn’t care a whit about that next to making accountability and the rule of law go away. It makes me wonder how many years it will take for Trumpies to finally realize AND admit that.

    There are only 2 points in Trump’s agenda: Using the presidency to make as much money as possible, and having the red hatter base stroke his ego. Everything else is the means to this end.

    Basically, Trump’s genius (if you can call it that, I’m pretty sure there is no plan here at all) is finding a way to make money off of making liberals cry, which was running for president. Red hatters were also happy to see liberals cry, so that’s why they supported Trump. As long as Trump continues to upset liberals, he’ll have support, but there is a cost to burning your house down just so liberals can cough on the smoke.

  • chemical

    I’d say Neil Gorsuch is capable of doing his job in an honorable manner. But then again, Gorsuch doesn’t have to answer to Trump, and has actually ruled against one of his policies since being seated on SCOTUS.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I’m still with-holding judgement on Gorsuch.

    It took a while for the weaknesses of Tillerson’s involvement with Russia to become public and be felt.

    I don’t believe Gorsuch has shown us his true self after only one or two votes – I simply don’t think that’s a sufficient test of “honor” vs “coincidence”, “accident”, “one-off”, or “pretending”. It will take more than a year of consistency for me to believe he’s an honorable appointee instead of just putting on a show until the “heat” is off – likely over a year – of consistent opinions based solely on interpretations of the Constitution – not on populism or Trump devotion or creatively reading between the lines of the Constitution in order to justify extra-legal Congressional or Presidential actions (such as Obamacare “as a tax” or the invented “rights” to free or low-cost (government) housing, free healthcare, etc).

    But I will concede that Gorsuch is a POSSIBILITY. I thought of Nikki Haley also, but with all the dishonest “conservative” reporting, I cannot consider her “honorable” without first-hand witness to the totality of her actions and positions on behalf of the US at the UN.

    It seems those that come closest to “honorable” have been pursuing their personal agendas for the offices they hold until one of the Trumps steps in and decides to second-guess and over-rule them at which point kow-towing occurs.

  • WW

    No they can’t be trusted imo. I truly believe that anyone who will willfully serve trump in any kind of leadership capacity is compromised.
    “I cannot vote for Republicans ever again”.
    Nor can I. Not sure what the path forward will be but I’m convinced it’s not the Republican party.

  • Ellen Elmore

    “Using the presidency to make as much money as possible, and having the red hatter base stroke his ego. Everything else is the means to this end.” This is a perfect description of why Trump wanted to be president – ego and money. That’s all that matters to him.