The Bucknellian

Whitaker might be a worse option than Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Griffin Perrault, Staff Writer

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In a stunning overset of the southern hospitality to which he has grown so accustomed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stepped down after President Donald Trump publicly called for his resignation on Nov. 7. Certainly one of the most anticipated terminations of the year, Sessions’ departure marks a striking moment in the Trump administration: Trump has rid himself of a great roadblock at the cost of Sessions’ unique blend of incapacity, audacity, and racial prejudice. Sessions, of course, embodied these ideals to the end, using his final days as attorney general to adopt a policy limiting the ability of the Department of Justice to investigate claims of police brutality and abuse. If there were ever an indication that Sessions and Trump are for one moment opposed, let his actions have their say.

Yet more salient issues exist than the remembrance of Sessions’ past. The Mueller investigation, once held by the tenuous fibers of government transparency over Trump’s boiling rage, is now subject to the whims of acting attorney general and former conservative commentator Matt Whitaker, a figure truly worth worrying about.

The acting AG has inspired considerable unease among top Democratic leaders and others sympathetic to the investigation after it was revealed that, in August of 2017, he wrote a piece for CNN titled “Mueller’s investigation of Trump is going too far.” In the article, Whitaker cited the special counsel’s inspection of Trump’s finances as “plainly not within the scope of the investigation” and potentially “damaging to the President of the United States and his family — and […] to the country.”

Meanwhile on Twitter, between deeply concerning sports takes about the viability of Tim Tebow and a bizarre obsession with football tight ends, Whitaker also shared a series of articles referring to Mueller’s inspection as a “lynch mob” and calling the FBI raid on Paul Manafort’s Virginia home a tactic to “intimidate.” He also, coincidentally, expressed fondness for Russia’s softening of white-collar crime laws in a 2010 tweet, referring to the move as the “good idea of the year.” Although none of these are necessarily indicative of Whitaker’s future actions as acting attorney general, they certainly imply a conflict of interest which, if not remedied by his recusal, could result in an investigation stymied by political partisanship and clandestine bureaucratic holdups.

Nevertheless, it appears that this is exactly Trump’s motive, who, in a stunning and bizarre move, appointed Whitaker without Senate confirmation over deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. Some legal scholars have referred to this action as everything from unusual to unconstitutional. Regardless, there certainly seems some compelling personal interest at stake for Trump here, and his willingness to trample on precedent betrays a shocking disrespect for the rule of law in this country. Take note of this going forward.

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Whitaker might be a worse option than Attorney General Jeff Sessions