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Tag: Matthew Whitaker

Dems, Republicans Warn Trump’s New AG Against Interfering with Mueller Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Republicans and Democrats are warning President Trump and his new attorney general to keep their hands off the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling.

Adam Schiff, the Democrat who will lead the House Intelligence Committee in January, continued to call the appointment of Matthew Whitaker unconstitutional and pledged to expose any attempts to interfere with Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Republican senators appeared on Sunday news shows to say the Trump administration must not get impede the probe, which includes examining whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Schiff called Whitaker’s appointment “flawed” and said he was “chosen for the purpose of interfering with the Mueller investigation.”

Schiff told ABC’s This Week: “He should have absolutely nothing to do with the investigation,” adding: “We will expose any involvement he has in it. He needs to know that if he takes any action to curb what Mr Mueller does we are going to find out about it, we are going to expose it.”

Acting AG Tells Sen. Graham He Won’t Interfere with Mueller Probe

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he’s been assured by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that he won’t interfere with the special counsel investigation.

In a private meeting in Graham’s office, Whitaker said he would “honor regular order” and allow the probe to continue.

Graham told reporters he doesn’t believe Whitaker will do “anything unsavory” with the 18-month investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, ABC News reports

“I’ve a lot of confidence that Mr. Mueller will be allowed to do his job and that the legal process that was in place before Mr. Whitaker arrived will be followed,” Graham said.

Graham added, “And I have every confidence he’ll make reasoned decisions when his time comes and that the investigation is not in jeopardy.”

Despite previous comments questioning the legality of the probe, Whitaker told Graham he has no qualms with the investigation.

“He’s seen nothing out of bounds,” Graham said. “No concerns at all about Mr. Mueller.”

A day after the midterm elections, President Trump forced AG Sessions to resign and replaced him with Whitaker, a loyalist and critic of the probe.

How Democrats Could Save the Mueller Probe if Trump’s Administration Tries to End It

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into Russian meddling is at risk of being sabotaged by President Trump’s administration.

A day after the midterm elections, Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and replaced him with a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, who could try to end the investigation.

Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill to protect the special counsel probe on Wednesday, and this morning Trump unleashed a series of tweets calling the probe “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LINK TO NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY.”

But Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, still have recourse. Slate reports that Democrats could protect the investigation by creating a “Special Select Committee on Russian Election Interference” and appointing Mueller and his prosecutors as the lead investigators. 

Or Democrats could subpoena details of the investigation and hire him to complete the probe.

Mueller Expected to Issue New Indictments As New AG Weighs His Options

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue indictments as early this week as acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker weighs whether he should recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

It has been widely speculated that the next two months will be busy for Mueller after going silent during the midterm elections.

But the fate of Mueller’s investigation hangs in the balance after President Trump replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Whitaker, a loyalist who has contended that the special counsel probe is illegal.

Whitaker plans to meet with Justice Department ethics officials this week about whether he should take over the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The state of Maryland took legal action Tuesday, arguing that Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office.” Maryland officials believe Rosenstein should have been appointed to replace Sessions as a matter of law. 

Meanwhile, it’s unclear who could be indicted by Mueller’s team after CBS reported that new inducements are expected soon. 

Among those facing potential indictments are GOP strategist and longtime Trump supporter Roger Stone and far-right commentator Jerome Corsi, who said earlier this week that Mueller’s team told him he would be indicted.

So far, Mueller’s team has indicted four people once connected to Trump’s campaign or administration, 12 Russian intelligence officers, 13 Russian nationals, three Russian companies and three other people.

State of Maryland Challenges Whitaker’s Appointment as AG

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s appointment of a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing a court challenge.

The state of Maryland plans to ask a federal judge Tuesday to declare that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be the acting attorney general, not Whitaker, as a matter of law, the New York Times reports. 

In a draft filing, the state says Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office.”

The request by Maryland is part of a lawsuit in which the state sued Sessions in his official capacity. Ellen L. Hollander, a 2010 Obama appointee to the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, must identify Sessions’ successor as a defendant in the litigation.

A lot is at stake. The supervision of Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign and administration belongs to the head of the Justice Department, which is the acting attorney general.

Whitaker has long criticized Mueller’s position as illegal. Rosenstein, on the other hand, appointed Mueller in April 2017 to investigate Russia and the role Trump’s campaign played in election meddling.

Kelly Conway’s Husband: Hiring Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is Unconstitutional

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It might not come as a shock that some attorneys would conclude that the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is unconstitutional.

But it’s certainly a bigger deal when one of those lawyers speaking up is the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, husband George T. Conway III, along with attorney Neal K. Katyal, write:

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies 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.

If you don’t believe us, then take it from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Mr. Trump once called his “favorite” sitting justice. Last year, the Supreme Court examined the question of whether the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board had been lawfully appointed to his job without Senate confirmation. The Supreme Court held the appointment invalid on a statutory ground.

Fate of Mueller Investigation Hangs in the Balance After Sessions’ Resignation

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday presented President Trump with his best opportunity yet to end the special counsel investigation that he has repeatedly dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist and harsh critic of Robert Mueller’s handling of the probe, has been tapped to replace Sessions on at least a temporary basis.

As attorney general, Whitaker could seize control of the special counsel investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Mueller in April 2017 after Sessions recused himself.

Whitaker, a former college football player and U.S. attorney in Iowa, wrote in a column for CNN last year that Mueller would overstep his authority if he investigated the Trump family’s finances.

“This would raise serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt,” Whitaker wrote, repeating the president’s go-to conspiratorial phrase.

Whitaker has not yet responded to media questions about what he plans to do about the Mueller investigation.

“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,” Whitaker said  Wednesday in a statement, calling Sessions “a man of integrity.”

Democrats wasted no time demanding that Whitaker stay away from the probe because his previous comments indicate he is far too biased to handle it fairly.

“Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement to the New York Times

If Trump’s administration interferes with the investigation, Democrats could use their new majority in the House to impeach the president. But the bold measure would almost certainly die in the Senate, which needs two-thirds of the vote to impeach.