A day after the midterm elections the U.S. department of Justice was hit by a red wave coming from The White House.
President Trump axed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for having recused himself from the Mueller investigation, and replaced him with an anti-Mueller investigation sycophant who should be recused.
Shortly after an ornery Trump held a lengthy press conference spinning the Republican House loss, it was announced Sessions had submitted his resignation at the president’s request.
Sessions had been the first major politician to endorse Trump. He gave up a safe, ranking Senate seat to serve as Attorney General. As A.G., Sessions was aggressive and effective in pushing Trump’s agenda.
Because Sessions justifiably recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, Trump didn’t recuse himself from belittling and humiliating Sessions in an attempt to get him to voluntarily resign.
It was never a question of if Sessions would be ousted, just when. Senator Lindsey Graham has signaled last month that if Sessions was fired, it should be after the midterms. Last week there were reports that Sessions had expected to be fired as early as the day after the election.
Trump had Chief-of-Staff John Kelly do the dirty work ousting Sessions, and Kelly didn’t even do it in person, he called Sessions to tell him his resignation had be ordered. Sessions had reportedly asked to stay until Friday, but was rebuffed.
The firing of an early, loyal, and effective supporter like Sessions, over the Mueller investigation, shows how fearful and desperate Trump is feeling about the probe growing ever closer to his business, family and himself.
Even more ominous than Sessions firing was how and who Trump chose to replace him. The normal succession would be to name Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had appointed Robert Mueller Special Counsel. Using a legal loophole, Trump bypassed naming Rosenstein acting A.G. in favor of Sessions’ new Chief-of-Staff Matt Whitaker.
Whitaker is “West wings eyes and ears” in Dept of Justice.
Whitaker had been a former federal prosecutor in Iowa, where he lost a Republican primary bid for Senate. But he came to the Trump administration’s attention as a pro-Trump, anti-Mueller investigation pundit on CNN. It’s reported that Whitaker had sought to become a cable news pundit in the hopes of catching Trump’s attention and landing a job in the administration. It obviously worked. In his post as Sessions’ Chief-of-Staff, John Kelly said Whitaker was the “West Wings eyes and ears.”
Whitaker’s punditry helped get him the job as Sessions Chief-of-Staff and now acting A.G., but it’s also provided plenty of evidence that he should be recused from overseeing the Mueller investigation. His comments show clear bias in pre-judging the investigation that would impeded fair supervision of Mueller.
In July 2017 on CNN Whitaker said, “I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general does not fire Bob Mueller, but he reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds almost to a halt.”
In Op-eds, and cable news commentary, Whitaker has referred to the Mueller investigation as a “Witch Hunt” and talked about how any eventual Mueller investigation report could be buried with it’s results never revealed to the public.
Upon being named acting AG, Whitaker issued the following statement:
“I am committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical standards that upholds the rule of law and seeks justice for all Americans.”
If Whitaker does not recuse himself from the supervising the Mueller investigation, he will have already failed to lead the department “with the highest ethical standards.”