Trump's New Acting AG Is Unfit To Serve


President Trump's replacement of the U.S. attorney general on Nov. 7 has generated a storm of well-merited criticism regarding the appointment's constitutionality, ethics, politics and potential criminality.

matthew whitaker agFor these reasons, the Justice Integrity Project strongly opposes the appointment of Matthew Whitaker, right. The project was founded in 2010 to report on abuses by the Justice Department, courts and those who appoint such officials. That remains the core of our mission even though our reporting has expanded to include news of the U.S. and global consequences of injustice.

Whitaker is a "lackey" of Trump in ways that undermine the independent role of the Justice Department, as many expert commentators have stated recently. Vox also reported Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker was counseling the White House on investigating Clinton.

Scandal and other criticism of Whitaker arose quickly after his appointment. Trump tried to pretend on Nov. 9 that he did not even know his appointee, as the New York Times reported in Trump Says ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker,’ Despite Several Oval Office Visits. Last month, Trump had even praised Whitaker by name as "a good guy."

Update: Whitaker's conflicts and other scandals and pressures surrounding his appointment appear to have limited Whitaker's ability and/or willingness to interfere with Mueller's investigation. Many commentaries on this point, including one dated on Nov. 20 Opinion: Stick a fork in Matt Whitaker, are excerpted in an appendix below. 

Justice Department logoBy all appearances, Whitaker won his job from Trump by showing as a cable television pundit that he opposes anything but a narrow agenda for Special Counsel Robert Mueller III's ongoing probe of the Trump campaign. Whitaker now supervises that probe because he is not recused, as was his predecessor Jeff Sessions.

On a related issue of even more historic importance, if possible, he opposes also the U.S. Supreme Court's 1803 holding in Marbury v. Madison, establishing judicial review power to monitor unconstitutional and other excesses within the Executive and Congressional Branches.

Aside from such policy views, the circumstances of Whitaker's appointment without confirmation by the U.S. senate and during a crucial phase of Mueller's investigation raise serious constitutional and other concerns, as described in a Nov. 9 New York Times oped Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional.

This is particularly so because efforts by Whitaker to limit Mueller's probe, particularly further investigation of Trump and the president's relatives, could be construed as obstruction of justice by Whitaker and Trump.

john mitchell croppedAs precedent, President Nixon's attorney general John Mitchell, shown at left in a file photo, served a prison term on obstruction charges for conspiring to hide details of the 1972 Watergate break-in. Obstruction was also one of the three impeachment charges that the House Judiciary Committee approved against Nixon in 1974 shortly before he resigned rather than face the charges before the full House.

Also prompting criticism is Whitaker's involvement during recent years with lobbying for a dark money group called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).

ftc logoEven more seriously, he was a director of World Patent Marketing (WPM), a scam company recently forced to pay a $26 million fine after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, an agency located a block from the Justice Department headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue and with overlapping jurisdiction in some cases of fraud and consumer protection.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Nov. 9 in its electronic edition: FBI Is Investigating Florida Company Where Whitaker Was Advisory-Board Member. The Guardian reported also, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings.

Regarding Whitaker's relatively brief stints in federal law enforcement:

President George W. Bush appointed Whitaker as U.S. attorney for the Southern district of Iowa, where he brought a controversial corruption prosecution against a prominent gay Democrat, whom a jury promptly acquitted in a case summarized this way on Wikipedia: "From 2005 to 2007, he was responsible for the unsuccessful investigation and prosecution of Iowa State Sen. Matt McCoy, a liberal Democrat, on charges of attempting to extort $2,000. The jury took less than two hours to return a not guilty verdict.

CNN reported this week recounted the tale in more detail in Whitaker's controversial prosecution of a gay Democrat: When Iowa state Sen. Matt McCoy learned Donald Trump had appointed Matthew Whitaker to be acting attorney general of the United States, he was aghast — he believes Whitaker was behind a politically motivated prosecution that was personally "devastating" to him.

It started in 2007, when McCoy was a rising Democrat in state politics, and the state's first openly gay lawmaker. Whitaker was the US attorney for Iowa's Southern District at the time.

matt mccoy iowaA grand jury indictment accused McCoy, right, of using his elected office to try to extort $2,000 from a Des Moines home security company where McCoy was a consultant. The charges came after an elaborate undercover investigation in which the FBI had McCoy's business partner wear a recording device. McCoy demanded money he says he was owed for his consulting work.

The trial lasted more than a week, with prosecutors trying to prove the business partner never agreed to pay McCoy for his consulting and the defense torpedoing the partner's testimony because he couldn't recall many details and admitted he had trouble with sobriety, according to Des Moines Register articles on the trial.In the end, the jury reached a not guilty verdict in an hour and a half, including time for lunch, according to the Des Moines Register.

"I believe it was a political prosecution, there's no doubt in mind, I'm 100% certain that it was," McCoy said, adding he believes he was targeted not just because he's a Democrat, but also because he's gay. "As US attorney (Whitaker) spoke at Christian Coalition events and would often refer to bringing God into his decision-making process and being guided by God's hand," McCoy said, "and so I believe that he was very much resentful of my lifestyle and I believe that played a factor in it."

sam clovis fox news CustomWhitaker has long been active in partisan politics, raising other concerns. In 2012, Whitaker served as campaign manager for Samuel Clovis, left, later a Trump campaign official and a witness in the Mueller inquiry who was forced to leave his Trump administration post under a cloud.

In an unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate representing Iowa, Whitaker argued that he would not "support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch."

Shown below are excerpts and hot links to a number of these and other news reports and commentaries on these issues.

As these revelations unfold, the Justice Department's ethics office, congressional leaders and ordinary members of the public must continue to speak out and demand that the Justice Department's vital functions be run by a proper appointee vetted in a constitutional and otherwise appropriate manner.

We have monitored these kinds of Justice Department abuses closely for nearly a decade, as indicated by such investigative reports as Covering Prosecutors Calls For Tough-Minded Reporters, published by Harvard University's Nieman Watchdog on Oct. 18, 2009. The subheadline, written by Nieman Watchdog editor and former Washington Post Watergate editor Barry Sussman, was "Writer Andrew Kreig cites concern over abusive prosecutorial conduct and suggests approaches for reporters to dig a little deeper. A question: Was Ted Stevens targeted to deflect from the overwhelming pursuit of Democrats, not Republicans, under Bush?"

Along that same line we also published that same month a front page Huffington Post investigation, Why Did Feds Persecute Celebrity Expert Cyril Wecht? Who’s Next?

Democrats responded in timid, cowardly fashion to these kinds of documented abuses by Bush administration prosecuters, like Iowa's Matthrew Whitaker, leading to our founding of the Justice Integrity Project early in 2010 to help keep up investigative pressure on new revelations of improper political decision-making by the Justice Department and its controllers.

Thus, last week's appointment of Whitaker and the cascade of revelations about him is squarely in our zone.

We conclude this column with one more bit of history that Whitaker, at least, should consider.

james rosen the strong man croppedThe impressive 2008 biography The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate was by longtime Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen.

"Chronicling the collapse of the Nixon administration," the publisher's summary states, "The Strong Man follows America's former top cop on his singular odyssey through the criminal justice system — a tortuous maze of camera crews,congressional hearings, special prosecutors, and federal trials. The path led, ultimately, to a prison cell in Montgomery, Alabama, where Mitchell was welcomed into federal custody by the same men he had appointed to office."

The gist: In Washington, including the Justice Department, the wheel of fortune can spin fast for the overly-ambitious and gullible. Mitchell did not order or even know about the Watergate break-in — but found himself as one of the first big patsies for trying to help out his president.

Are we talking about you too, Matt Whitaker?

 

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matthew whitaker weightlifting twitter

Acting U.S. Attorney Gen. Matthew Whitaker, a former college football player, features this photo across the top of his Twitter page.

The Justice Integrity Project updates almost daily a special site, Trump Watch, that excerpts news stories and commentary about the Mueller probe of the Trump administration and related events. Some of those stories are excerpted also below.

Index of Related News Coverage (Brief Excerpt Index)

(Shown in reverse chronological order)

Dec. 8

william barr o 1992Yahoo! News, Trump first wanted his attorney general pick William Barr for another job: Defense lawyer, Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, Dec. 8, 2018. Around that time, sources tell Yahoo News, White House officials reached out to a man they thought would be an ideal candidate: William P. Barr, right, the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

Dec. 7

washington post logoWashington Post, William Barr emerges as leading candidate for Trump’s attorney general, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey​, Dec. 7, 2018 (print edition). Former attorney general William P. Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to be nominated to lead the Justice Department — a choice that could be made in coming days as the agency presses forward with a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.

Dec. 4

Down With Tyranny! Manafort Revelations Show Trump Team Crime, Legacy Of Injustice, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 4, 2018. Among the remarkable Mueller probe revelations last week was the claim that attorneys for former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort have been sharing confidential information about the special counsel’s investigation with the legal team of “Individual 1,” aka President Trump.

Dec. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting AG Whitaker has suggested that Trump plays with the truth, Aaron C. Davis and Ilana Marcus, Dec. 1, 20189 (print edition). A review of hundreds of public comments by acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker shows that while he has primarily functioned as a defender of President Trump, he has also criticized the president on numerous occasions, sometimes harshly, while working as a commentator on radio and television.

ny times logoNew York Times, Whitaker’s Ascent Surprised Investigators of Firm Accused of Fraud, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Dec. 1, 2018 (print edition). Matthew G. Whitaker, right, the acting attorney general, sat on the board of a patent firm that was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. Newly disclosed documents shed light on Mr. Whitaker’s involvement with the company and investigators’ stunned reaction to his rise at the Justice Department.

Nov. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Whitaker fielded complaints about patent company yet promoted it, records show, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 30, 2018. Months after joining the advisory board of a Miami-based patent company in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker began fielding angry complaints from customers that they were being defrauded, including from a client who showed up at his Iowa office to appeal to him personally for help, records show.

Nov. 29

Palmer Report, Opinion: Is this the part where Matt Whitaker gets fired? Bill Palmer, Nov. 29, 2018. In all the surreal developments todayl, one of the most noteworthy aspects was that Mueller did anything at all. Trump installed Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General specifically to hamstring Mueller, yet here was Mueller, pulling off a huge swing at Trump.

Nov. 27

Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller just worked around Matthew Whitaker, Bill Palmer, Nov. 27, 2018. Last night Special Counsel Robert Mueller did something explosive when he ripped up his cooperating plea deal agreement with Paul Manafort, accusing Manafort of having lied to him. In effect, Mueller decided that he was no longer interested in Manafort’s cooperation at all. Palmer Report theorized last night that Mueller may have done this in order to take things public in a way that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker couldn’t stop.

Nov. 24

matthew whitaker headshot recentPalmer Report, Opinion: What happened to Matt Whitaker? Bill Palmer, Nov. 24, 2018. Donald Trump, rather obviously, fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in the hope that Whitaker would be able to quickly derail Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.

Nov. 23

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We don’t know who was paying Matthew Whitaker, and that’s a problem, Ray Madoff, Nov. 23, 2018. His organization illustrates exactly what’s wrong with charitable tax law. Someone was paying acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, right, and we don’t know who it was.

Nov. 21

Palmer Report, Opinion: Stick a fork in Matt Whitaker, Bill Palmer, Nov. 20, 2018. Just yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a Trump-Russia court filing which all but declared that, one way or the other, he had already gained the upper hand against Donald Trump’s newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Now comes late breaking news about Whitaker’s financial records which should be enough to finish him off entirely.

washington post logoWashington Post, As U.S. attorney, Whitaker sought longer-than-usual drug sentences, Michael Kranish, Nov. 21, 2018. In one case, Matthew G. Whitaker offered a woman charged in a third drug case a choice between spending the rest of her life in jail, or accepting a plea bargain sentence of 21 to 27 years, records show.

Nov. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative nonprofit with undisclosed funders paid Whitaker $1.2 million, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg and Aaron C. Davis, Nov. 20, 2018. Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker worked for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust for three years. The group became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise to the nation’s top law enforcement job.

washington post logoWashington Post, Before Justice Dept., Whitaker made $900,000 from charity, took ‘legal fees’ from company accused of fraud, Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 20, 2018. In the roughly two years before he rejoined the Justice Department, acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker earned more than $900,000 from a conservative charity with no other employees and collected more than $1,800 in “legal fees” from a Miami-based invention-marketing company that was shut down amid accusations of fraud, according to a financial disclosure form made public Tuesday.

Nov. 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Says He Wouldn't Stop Acting Attorney General From Curtailing Mueller, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 18, 2018. President Trump said he would not overrule his acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, if he decides to curtail the special counsel probe being led by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign.

Nov. 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump blasts Mueller probe a week after installing new acting attorney general, John Wagner, Nov. 15, 2018. President Trump on Thursday lashed out anew at the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, calling his team of lawyers “a disgrace to our NationNation” and accusing them, without evidence, of threatening witnesses to get answers they want.

Nov. 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Whitaker’s unusual path to Justice Department included owning day-care center, trailer maker and concrete supplier, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 14, 2018. He was a local lawyer in Iowa who rose to become one of the most important figures in the nation’s capital. But Matthew G. Whitaker’s path to the top of the Justice Department was decidedly offbeat.

washington post logoWashington Post via SFGate, Whitaker allegedly knew of scam complaints, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 14, 2018. Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker received early warnings that customers were complaining that an invention-marketing company he advised might be a fraud, according to several people familiar with his role, but Whitaker vigorously defended the company and remained on its board until joining the Justice Department in 2017.

Nov. 14

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Defends Legality of Trump’s Appointment of Acting Attorney General, Charlie Savage, Nov. 14, 2018. The Justice Department pushed back on Wednesday against accusations that President Trump’s appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general was illegal, arguing that it complied with both federal statutes and the Constitution — and that it fit within a history of similar designations dating back to the earliest days of the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Matthew Whitaker is steeped in time travel and Bigfoot. He’s the right man for the job, Dana Milbank, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). In addition to his exotic legal views and his lack of relevant experience, Matthew G. Whitaker was already known to have hawked hot-tub seats for a business that shut down this year after reaching a $26 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for defrauding customers. But that’s just the beginning of the crackpottery.

Nov. 13

Reuters, Maryland goes to court to challenge Trump's attorney general pick, Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey, Nov. 13, 2018. The state of Maryland launched a court challenge on Tuesday to the legality of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general, saying the president overstepped his constitutional authority and broke federal law.

washington post logoadam schiff officialWashington Post, Opinion: Matthew Whitaker, we’re watching you, Adam B. Schiff, Nov. 12, 2018. Adam B. Schiff, right, a Democrat, represents California’s 28th District in the House, where he is the ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee.

Politico, Schiff warns Whitaker that Democrats are 'watching you,' Caitlin Oprysko, Nov. 13, 2018. The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday put acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker on notice, calling for his “immediate recusal” from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe and warning that Democrats would be keeping an eye on him. “The president and Whitaker should heed this warning: The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in an op-ed in The Washington Post. It was headlined "Matthew Whitaker, we’re watching you."

Nov. 11

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s new Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is even more of a disaster than we thought, Bill Palmer, Nov. 11, 2018. Whitaker is a far-right talking head who thinks the investigation into Trump’s Russia scandal should be shut down. His appointment was also plainly unconstitutional. But now it turns out Whitaker is even more of a disaster than we thought. Far more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion; Trump’s acting attorney general pick was an unnecessary self-inflicted wound — but not a fatal one, Hugh Hewitt, Nov. 11, 2018. The appointment of acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker strikes many as possibly unconstitutional and even more as an utterly unnecessary self-inflicted political wound by the president. A “regular order” acting attorney general would have avoided igniting conspiracy theories. Replacing Whitaker quickly could still douse those that have been lit.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House Spin: Tump does know acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, Kellyanne Conway says, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 11, 2018. The White House counselor's comments came two days after President Trump sought to distance himself from his handpicked acting attorney general by claiming he didn't personally know him.

Nov. 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: There is no way this man should be running the Justice Department, Editorial Board, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Is Matthew G. Whitaker the legitimate acting attorney general?  matthew whitaker headshot recentFrom approximately the second President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tapped Mr. Whitaker, right, to temporarily exercise the office’s vast authority, legal experts have sparred over whether Mr. Trump can unilaterally elevate someone from a role that does not require Senate confirmation to one that does.

Guardian, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, Jon Swaine, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Matthew Whitaker, a former US attorney in Iowa, was paid to work as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing (WPM), a Florida-based company accused by the US government of tricking aspiring inventors out of millions of dollars. Earlier this year, it was ordered to pay authorities $26m.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Here comes Donald Trump’s Attorney General head-fake, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2018. Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and temporarily replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. It’s already clear that the scandal-a-minute Whitaker isn’t long for the position, and that Trump will have to nominate someone else to be the new permanent Attorney General in January. Accordingly, some names are being publicly floated. Don’t believe it.

cnn logoCNN, Whitaker's controversial prosecution of a gay Democrat, Drew Griffin, Collette Richards and Patricia DiCarlo, Nov. 10, 2018. When Iowa state Sen. Matt McCoy learned Donald Trump had appointed Matthew Whitaker to be acting attorney general of the United States, he was aghast -- he believes Whitaker was behind a politically motivated prosecution that was personally "devastating" to him.

Nov. 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

washington post logoWashington Post, As a Senate candidate, Whitaker said he won’t support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch,’ Michael Kranish and Robert Barnes​, Nov. 9, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful 2014 run, have drawn new scrutiny since he was named acting attorney general.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional, Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). 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. Mr. Katyal and Mr. Conway are prominent appellate lawyers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker panics and locks down his Twitter account after his scandals explode, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Donald Trump, the only thing more consistent than his dirty scheming is the fact that he never bothers to do his homework before putting his schemes in motion.

The Atlantic, Opinion: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller, Benjamin Wittes (Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Nov. 9, 2018. The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Mueller probe could be in mortal danger, Harry Litman, Nov. 9, 2018. Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and practices law at the firm Constantine Cannon. He was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2001 and deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1998.

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general once promoted a company accused of deceiving clients, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Nov. 8, 2018. Former customers of World Patent Marketing expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Matthew Whitaker has experience advising con artists. Will he help more under Trump? Catherine Rampell, Nov. 8, 2018. But maybe Whitaker really was picked because he has experience advising con artists. Whitaker, after all, was involved with a Miami-based firm that federal regulators shut down last year as an alleged scam. The firm, World Patent Marketing, promised aspiring inventors that it would patent and market their brainchildren, based on what a 17-page Federal Trade Commission complaint characterized as bogus “success stories” and other false claims.

DeSmog, Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years, Sharon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2018. Whitaker was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

 

Related News Coverage (Longer Excerpts)

(Shown in reverse chronological order)

Dec. 8

Yahoo! News, Trump first wanted his attorney general pick William Barr for another job: Defense lawyer, Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, Dec. 8, 2018. Around that time, sources william barr o 1992tell Yahoo News, White House officials reached out to a man they thought would be an ideal candidate: William P. Barr, right, the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. An outspoken conservative, Barr had gotten on Trump’s radar screen that spring after he had written a newspaper op-ed vigorously defending the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. At one point, Barr was ushered into a brief White House meeting with Trump, who asked him if he was interested in the job, according to a source who was present for the meeting. Barr demurred. He had other obligations, he said. He would have to think about it.

The talk among Trump and his top advisers about hiring Barr as chief defense lawyer did not stop there. It arose again this year after the departure of John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, and continued until the summer, when the president found another candidate far more eager for the job: Rudy Giuliani. But now in a twist few could have anticipated, Trump has tapped Barr for an even more important position: attorney general, a post that, if he is confirmed, would put him in charge of the Mueller investigation.

The decision to nominate Barr has won applause by many of his former colleagues, who praise him as a savvy Washington veteran with expansive, hard-edged views about executive power, but who at the same time is steeped in the culture of the Justice Department and its tradition of fiercely resisting improper influences on pending prosecutions.

But Barr’s nomination has also raised potentially thorny political questions about how independent he would be in overseeing the Russia probe and whether his previously expressed views defending the president — and criticizing some aspects of the Mueller investigation — could potentially compromise his leadership. Barr has made other comments that are potentially more problematic. He raised questions about political contributions made by a number of Mueller’s prosecutors to Democrats. “I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group,” he said. And Barr suggested that there were legitimate grounds to investigate Clinton’s ties to a uranium mining firm that benefited from a decision approved while she was secretary of state — a criminal probe repeatedly urged by Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nick Ayers, Trump’s once-likely replacement for chief of staff John Kelly, won’t take the job, Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta​, Dec. 8, 2018. nick ayers headshotAyers, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, tweeted that he will leave the White House at the end of the year.

Trump’s new list of potential chiefs includes Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who is also acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, according to a White House official.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker and Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer were also said to be under consideration.

Dec. 7

washington post logoWashington Post, William Barr emerges as leading candidate for Trump’s attorney general, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey​, Dec. 7, 2018 (print edition). Former attorney general William P. Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to be nominated to lead the Justice Department — a choice that could be made in coming days as the agency presses forward with a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.

william barr o 1992Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a favorite candidate of a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office, these people said. Two people familiar with the discussions said the president has told advisers in recent days that he plans to nominate Barr (shown in an official photo from his 1990s term).

An alternate candidate is Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) a conservative whose support of the president has won the attention and backing of others inside the White House, these people said.

Even if Barr were announced as the president’s choice this week, it could take months for a confirmation vote, given the congressional schedule.

In the meantime, acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker would still serve as head of the Justice Department — a decision that has angered Democrats who question both his résumé and the legal justification for his ascension to that job, given that he was not serving in a Senate-confirmed position when Trump selected him as the temporary successor to Jeff Sessions, whom Trump forced out in early November after the midterm elections.

• Washington Post, The Fix: Barr has urged more Clinton investigations and backed Trump’s firing of James Comey.

Dec. 4

Down With Tyranny! Manafort Revelations Show Trump Team Crime, Legacy Of Injustice, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 4, 2018. Among the remarkable Mueller probe revelations last week was the claim that attorneys for former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort have been sharing confidential information about the special counsel’s investigation with the legal team of “Individual 1,” aka President Trump.

The New York Times broke the main story electronically on Nov. 27 under the headline, Manafort’s Lawyer Is Said to Have Briefed Trump Team on Mueller Talks. Reporters Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman wrote.

the controversy illustrates continuing tension between the federal enforcement “community” and the opportunists (or worse) who operate within the justice system or on its fringes. Such conflicts are especially important and outrageous as the Trump administration draws upon some of the very worst Bush administration attorneys.

Among the many such shocking situations, this column focuses on three such officials who have become extremely prominent and otherwise newsworthy, in part because of their ties to President Trump and his team.

• Manafort’s lead defense attorney, Kevin Downing, is a former senior litigator within the Justice Department’s tax fraud section, which missed a series of colossal tax frauds, including by Downing’s future client Manafort. Downing reportedly is also one of the attorneys involved in the liaison with the Trump White House that the New York Times reported last week;

• U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta as U.S. attorney for Miami in the Bush administration was involved both in major tax fraud cover-ups and also in whitewashing the federal-state prosecution of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein is a Trump friend and neighbor who is back in the news this week with the beginning of a major defamation trial in West Palm Beach, Florida; and

• Our third Bush-era former Justice Department official is Matthew Whitaker, whom Trump named as acting attorney general after Whitaker tried out for the job by arguing on cable news shows that Mueller’s investigation are excessive and unwarranted. Whitaker’s career includes a stint as a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Northern Iowa, where he vigorously prosecuted one of his political enemies whom a jury acquitted in just two hours.

Dec. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting AG Whitaker has suggested that Trump plays with the truth, Aaron C. Davis and Ilana Marcus, Dec. 1, 20189 (print edition). A review of hundreds of public comments by acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker shows that while he has primarily functioned as a defender of President Trump, he has also criticized the president on numerous occasions, sometimes harshly, while working as a commentator on radio and television.

Whitaker has repeatedly suggested that Trump plays with the truth. He has said Trump should release his tax returns and was “self-serving” in the way he fired FBI Director James B. Comey. Whitaker said during the run-up to the 2016 election that neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton were very good options for the presidency. “I mean, both these candidates are unlikable,” he said.

The critique of the president by Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney who rose to prominence over the past four years as the head of a conservative nonprofit group, has often come in unguarded moments, and sometimes late into on-air discussions. “Sometimes I wonder if anybody has the president’s ear or if he just kind of watches news accounts and responds to, which is a little dangerous,” Whitaker said in June 2017 on a radio show.

ny times logoNew York Times, Whitaker’s Ascent Surprised Investigators of Firm Accused of Fraud, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Dec. 1, 2018 (print edition). Matthew G. Whitaker, right, the acting attorney general, sat on the board of a patent firm that was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. Newly disclosed documents shed light on Mr. Whitaker’s involvement with the company and investigators’ stunned reaction to his rise at the Justice Department.

matthew whitaker agAs Federal Trade Commission lawyers investigated a Miami company accused of defrauding thousands of customers, they were stunned to learn last year about a new job for a figure in their inquiry, Matthew G. Whitaker: He had been named chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“You’re not going to believe this... Matt Whitaker is now chief of staff to the Attorney General. Of the United States,” James Evans, an F.T.C. lawyer, wrote to colleagues in an email on Oct. 24, 2017.

The emails were part of a trove of files the trade commission made public on Friday in response to Freedom of Information Act requests for documents about its investigation into the company, World Patent Marketing. Mr. Whitaker sat on its advisory board.

In early November, President Trump fired Mr. Sessions and installed Mr. Whitaker as the acting attorney general. His appointment immediately prompted outcry in part because Mr. Whitaker had sharply criticized the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible ties to Trump associates, which he now oversees as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Democrats have expressed alarm and vowed to investigate Mr. Whitaker when they take over the House of Representatives in January.

Nov. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Whitaker fielded complaints about patent company yet promoted it, records show, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 30, 2018. Months after joining the advisory board of a Miami-based patent company in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker began fielding angry complaints from customers that they were ftc logobeing defrauded, including from a client who showed up at his Iowa office to appeal to him personally for help, records show.

Yet Whitaker, now the acting attorney general, remained an active champion of World Patent Marketing for three years — even expressing willingness to star in national television ads promoting the firm, the records show.

Internal Federal Trade Commission documents released Friday in response to a public records request reveal the extent of Whitaker’s support for World Patent Marketing, even amid a barrage of warnings about the company’s behavior.

Nov. 29

Palmer Report, Opinion: Is this the part where Matt Whitaker gets fired? Bill Palmer, Nov. 29, 2018. In all the surreal developments today surrounding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to have Michael Cohen publicly implicate Donald Trump in the Trump Tower Moscow election scandal, one of the most noteworthy aspects was that Mueller did anything at all. Trump installed Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General specifically to hamstring Mueller, yet here was Mueller, pulling off a huge swing at Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerWe don’t know why Matt Whitaker rolled over today, but we do know that he did in fact roll over. Multiple major news outlets reported that Robert Mueller had Rod Rosenstein sign off on the Michael Cohen move, and while Whitaker was informed before it happened, he clearly didn’t stop it from happening. Did he try to stop it and fail? Did he fail to try? We don’t have any way of knowing. But the bottom line is that he utterly, crucially, failed Trump today.

Now Donald Trump has a decision to make. His scheme to stop Robert Mueller, by installing Matt Whitaker, is not working. So now what? Does Trump give Whitaker a stern talking to about his expectations going forward? Does Trump fire the guy, and try to find someone else to be his new Acting Attorney General?

Donald Trump could surely get away with firing Matthew Whitaker, because no one thinks the Whitaker appointment was appropriate or legal anyway. But unless Trump can immediately find some other corrupt lackey to install in his place, Rod Rosenstein would become the new Acting Attorney General, which would only serve to further strengthen Robert Mueller’s position. So will Trump sit tight on an apparent busted hand, or will he fire Whitaker out of spite, knowing it could cost him even more? Stay tuned.

Nov. 27

Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller just worked around Matthew Whitaker, Bill Palmer, Nov. 27, 2018. Last night Special Counsel Robert Mueller did something explosive when he ripped up his cooperating plea deal agreement with Paul Manafort, accusing Manafort of having lied to him.

In effect, Mueller decided that he was no longer interested in Manafort’s cooperation at all. Palmer Report theorized last night that Mueller may have done this in order to take bill palmer report logo headerthings public in a way that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker couldn’t stop. This evening, incoming House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler suggested more or less the same thing.

Because Robert Mueller has told the judge that Paul Manafort lied to him, Mueller is now required to tell the judge about the specific things Manafort lied about. That means Mueller has to disclose – in a court filing due next week – all the secrets involved in Manafort’s deception. This filing will instantly become a matter of public record. So we’re about to see Mueller essentially leak everything. We don’t think this is an accident.

Nov. 24

Palmer Report, Opinion: What happened to Matt Whitaker? Bill Palmer, Nov. 24, 2018. Donald Trump, rather obviously, fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in the hope that Whitaker would be able to quickly derail Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation. We’ve all been waiting for a sign that Whitaker either was, or wasn’t, seizing any meaningful control over the probe – and we just got a pretty strong signal on that front.

Nov. 23

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We don’t know who was paying Matthew Whitaker, and that’s a problem, Ray Madoff, Nov. 23, 2018. His organization illustrates exactly what’s wrong matthew whitaker headshot recentwith charitable tax law. Someone was paying acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, right, and we don’t know who it was.

As The Post reported earlier this week, Whitaker — who was chosen in 2014 to lead a mysterious charity with undisclosed funders — received more than $1.2 million over the course of three years before he joined the Justice Department.

We don’t know who funded this charity, called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or why they chose to do it. But what we do know is that the way it reportedly operated under Whitaker’s leadership raises questions as to whether the organization acted as a conservative political campaign operation. We also know that those who funded the organization were able to do so entirely anonymously while writing off their donations on their taxes, all thanks to an increasingly popular charitable vehicle called the donor-advised fund.

Ray Madoff is a law professor at Boston College and the director of the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good.

Nov. 21

Palmer Report, Opinion: Stick a fork in Matt Whitaker, Bill Palmer, Nov. 20, 2018. Just yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a Trump-Russia court filing which all but declared that, one way or the other, he had already gained the upper hand against Donald Trump’s newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Now comes late breaking news about Whitaker’s financial records which should be enough to finish him off entirely.

bill palmer report logo headerRespected legal activist group CREW has managed to get its hands on Matt Whitaker’s financial disclosures tonight, even after the Trump regime tried to keep them buried. It turns out Whitaker’s disclosures have been revised five times in the past two weeks. CREW principal Norm Eisen, below right, has tweeted that, as he works his way through the mess, there’s an “aroma of bad fish coming out of my computer already.”

norman eisen SmallSo what is CREW about to find in Whitaker’s financial disclosures? We don’t know yet, but there’s no question it’ll be ugly. The White House wouldn’t have tried to keep his disclosures from becoming public knowledge, and taken the extreme step of altering them five times, unless there was something in there that Trump and Whitaker really didn’t want to become public, for fear it would finish Whitaker off.

washington post logoWashington Post, As U.S. attorney, Whitaker sought longer-than-usual drug sentences, Michael Kranish, Nov. 21, 2018. In one case, Matthew G. Whitaker offered a woman charged in a third drug case a choice between spending the rest of her life in jail, or accepting a plea bargain sentence of 21 to 27 years, records show. Whitaker’s record is newly relevant after President Trump named him as acting attorney general.

Raeanna Woody’s crimes hardly seemed like they would add up to a life sentence in prison. She had two nonviolent drug convictions, for possessing marijuana and delivering 12 grams of methamphetamine. But when she was arrested in a third drug case, she said, the office of U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker decided to make an example of her.

Under Whitaker, who is now acting attorney general, Woody was given a choice: spend the rest of her life in jail, or accept a plea bargain sentence of 21 to 27 years, according to court records. She took the deal.

Federal Judge Robert W. Pratt in the Southern District of Iowa later accused prosecutors of having “misused” their authority in her nonviolent case. He urged President Barack Obama to commute her sentence — and Obama did shorten her term , after she had served 11 years.

Nov. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative nonprofit with undisclosed funders paid Whitaker $1.2 million, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg and Aaron C. Davis, Nov. 20, 2018. Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker worked for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust for three years. The group became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise to the nation’s top law enforcement job.

In the three years after he arrived in Washington in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees, some of the best pay of his career.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust described itself as a new watchdog nonprofit dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials. For Whitaker, it became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise from a modest law practice in Iowa to the nation’s top law enforcement job. As FACT’s president, he regularly appeared on radio and television, often to skewer liberals.

But FACT’s origins and the source of funding used to pay Whitaker — now the acting attorney general — remain obscured. An examination of state and federal records, and interviews with those involved, show that the group is part of a national network of nonprofits that often work in concert to amplify conservative messages.

Contrary to its claims in news releases and a tax filing, the group was created under a different name two years before Whitaker’s arrival, according to incorporation and IRS records. At least two of the organizers were involved in another conservative charity using the same address.

washington post logoWashington Post, Before Justice Dept., Whitaker made $900,000 from charity, took ‘legal fees’ from company accused of fraud, Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 20, 2018. In the roughly two years before he rejoined the Justice Department, acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker earned more than $900,000 from a conservative charity with no other employees and collected more than $1,800 in “legal fees” from a Miami-based invention-marketing company that was shut down amid accusations of fraud, according to a financial disclosure form made public Tuesday.

The form, which Whitaker first filled out after taking over as Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff, shows Whitaker drew a salary from the conservative Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust of $904,000 and collected $1,875 in legal fees from World Patent Marketing.

That company is notable because it shut down in May and agreed to pay a settlement of more than $25 million to resolve a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into its practices.

Nov. 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Says He Wouldn't Stop Acting Attorney General From Curtailing Mueller, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 18, 2018. President Trump said he would not overrule his acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, if he decides to curtail the special counsel probe being led by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign.

“Look, it’s going to be up to him . . . I would not get involved,” Trump said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

In the weeks since Trump forced Jeff Sessions to resign as attorney general and chose Whitaker to serve as his interim replacement, Whitaker has faced calls from Democrats to recuse himself from oversight of the probe given his previous criticism of the investigation. Trump said in Sunday’s interview that he “did not know [Whitaker] took views on the Mueller investigation as such” before he appointed him to his position.

Trump also essentially shut the door to sitting down with Mueller, telling host Chris Wallace that his written answers mean “probably this is the end” of his involvement in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

“I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably: We’re finished,” Trump said. He said that he had given “very complete answers to a lot of questions” and that “that should solve the problem.”

Trump said Friday that he had answered a set of written questions from Mueller “very easily.” The president told Wallace in Sunday’s interview that it “wasn’t a big deal” and that he expects his legal team to submit the answers “at some point very soon.”

Nov. 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Whitaker’s unusual path to Justice Department included owning day-care center, trailer maker and concrete supplier, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 14, 2018. He was a local lawyer in Iowa who rose to become one of the most important figures in the nation’s capital. But Matthew G. Whitaker’s path to the top of the Justice Department was decidedly offbeat.

Over the past two decades, Whitaker — now the acting attorney general — has owned a day-care center, a concrete supply business and a trailer manufacturer, state records show. He led a taxpayer-subsidized effort to build affordable housing in Des Moines, but he walked away from the stalled project two years ago after the city threatened him with a lawsuit.

In 2004, when he started a five-year stint as U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Iowa, Whitaker cited a personal-injury case and a dispute involving a dry-cleaning business as some of his most consequential legal work. When he left office, he started a modest legal practice and a short-lived lobbying and consulting firm.

washington post logoWashington Post via SFGate, Whitaker allegedly knew of scam complaints, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 14, 2018. Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker received early warnings that customers were complaining that an invention-marketing company he advised might be a fraud, according to several people familiar with his role, but Whitaker vigorously defended the company and remained on its board until joining the Justice Department in 2017.

Since his appointment by President Donald Trump last week, Whitaker has said through a Justice Department spokeswoman that he was unaware of allegedly fraudulent activities at Miami-based World Patent Marketing. The company shut down in May and agreed to pay a settlement of nearly $26 million to resolve a wide-ranging Federal Trade Commission complaint that it bilked customersRecommended Video

As a member of the company's advisory board, Whitaker had been told of complaints about the company's practices, according to two people familiar with the FTC investigation. He did not appear to take any action in response, they said.

In addition, shortly after joining the board in late 2014, Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa, personally intervened when a for-profit consumer complaint website posted comments critical of the company.

ny times logomatthew whitaker headshot recentNew York Times, Justice Dept. Defends Legality of Trump’s Appointment of Acting Attorney General, Charlie Savage, Nov. 14, 2018. The Justice Department pushed back on Wednesday against accusations that President Trump’s appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general was illegal, arguing that it complied with both federal statutes and the Constitution — and that it fit within a history of similar designations dating back to the earliest days of the country.

The Trump administration made its case in a 20-page memorandum by Steven E. Engel, the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel. It came a day after the State of Maryland asked a Federal District Court judge to issue an injunction declaring that when Mr. Trump ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the role of acting head of the department passed instead to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, as a matter of law.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Matthew Whitaker is steeped in time travel and Bigfoot. He’s the right man for the job, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). In addition to dana milbank Customhis exotic legal views and his lack of relevant experience, Matthew G. Whitaker was already known to have hawked hot-tub seats for a business that shut down this year after reaching a $26 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for defrauding customers. But that’s just the beginning of the crackpottery.

During the current U.S. attorney general’s time on the company’s advisory board, from 2014 onward, World Patent Marketing:

● Claimed that “DNA evidence collected in 2013 proves that Bigfoot does exist,” had a website selling Bigfoot paraphernalia and planned a celebrity event called “You Have Been Squatched!”

● Asserted that “time travel” could be “possible, perhaps within the next decade” and tried to raise money using bitcoin for time-travel research by one of Whitaker’s fellow board members. The company suggested users might “relive moments from your past” or “visit your future.”

● Announced, in the same media release heralding Whitaker’s appointment to the board, a patent application for an extra-deep “masculine toilet” for the well-endowed. Specifying the size of “average male genitalia,” the release said “this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that.”

Nov. 13

Reuters, Maryland goes to court to challenge Trump's attorney general pick, Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey, Nov. 13, 2018.  The state of Maryland launched a court challenge on Tuesday to the legality of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general, saying the president overstepped his constitutional authority and broke federal law.

matthew whitaker headshot recentTrump installed Whitaker, right, as acting attorney general last week after ordering Jeff Sessions to resign from the post. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself in March 2017 from the federal investigation, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, a probe Trump has called a “witch hunt.”

Maryland asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander to bar Whitaker from appearing in an official capacity as acting attorney general in existing litigation related to the Affordable Care Act healthcare law and to substitute Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in Whitaker’s place.

Nov. 12

ny times logoNew York Times, Top Democrats Vow to Block Matthew Whitaker From Interfering in Russia Inquiry, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 12, 2018 (print edition). Newly empowered House Democrats threatened to subpoena the acting attorney general and take other measures as they push for his recusal from the investigation.

The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, vowed to make Mr. Whitaker the panel’s first witness when the new Congress convenes in January — and subpoena him if necessary. The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said Democrats would investigate Mr. Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly and explicitly criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

“The questions we will ask him will be about his expressed hostility to the investigation, and how he can possibly supervise it when he’s expressed, when he’s come out and said the investigation is invalid,” Mr. Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

And Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, warned that if Mr. Whitaker did not step aside, Democrats would attach legislation protecting the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to a must-pass spending bill.

washington post logoadam schiff officialWashington Post, Opinion: Matthew Whitaker, we’re watching you, Adam B. Schiff, Nov. 12, 2018. Adam B. Schiff, right, a Democrat, represents California’s 28th District in the House, where he is the ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee.

Only hours after the magnitude of Democratic gains in the House became apparent, President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, putting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation in imminent danger. This represents the president’s most direct challenge yet to the rule of law.

Instead of elevating Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the most senior Senate-confirmed officer at the Justice Department, Trump circumvented normal succession by handpicking Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff and a person who has publicly criticized the special counsel’s investigation and has troubling conflicts of interest.

The president and Whitaker should heed this warning: The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department. Should Whitaker fail to recuse himself — all indications are that he plans not to — and seek to obstruct the investigation, serve as a back channel to the president or his legal team or interfere in the investigations in any way, he will be called to answer. His actions will be exposed.

Nov. 11

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s new Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is even more of a disaster than we thought, Bill Palmer, Nov. 11, 2018. When Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions the day after the midterm elections and replaced him in an “acting” capacity, with Sessions’ own chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, it was instantly identifiable as an overwhelmingly corrupt move. Whitaker is a far-right talking head who thinks the investigation into Trump’s Russia scandal should be shut down. His appointment was also plainly unconstitutional. But now it turns out Whitaker is even more of a disaster than we thought. Far more.

It’s bad enough that Matthew Whitaker pre-confessed his intention during various cable news appearances to commit felony obstruction of justice. Would you hire a guy to guard a bank if he was already on record with his views that banks should be robbed? But its not just that this guy is perfectly unsuitable for the Acting Attorney General job. It’s that he’s apparently a career criminal and a vindictive bigot who doesn’t believe the United States should even have a government. No, really.

Just a couple years ago, Whitaker was tangled up in a scam company that ripped people off and then threatened them when they asked for their money back, and was eventually shut down by the Federal Trade Commissions. Whitaker has also falsely and maliciously prosecuted a guy simply for being liberal and gay, which isn’t surprising, considering that Whitaker is a far-right “Christian” extremist whose horrid views are the opposite of what Christ stood for. This guy Whitaker a monster. But it gets even uglier.

Just five years ago, Matthew Whitaker stated his view that the federal government has no authority over state governments, and that the states should be able to violate federal law at will. Now, as Acting Attorney General, he’s in charge of carrying out federal law in all fifty states. Also, Whitaker appears to be trying to hide some truly embarrassing things in his past tweets, as he’s had his Twitter account locked down for days.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump does know acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, Kellyanne Conway says, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 11, 2018. The White House counselor's comments came two days after President Trump sought to distance himself from his handpicked acting attorney general by claiming he didn't personally know him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion; Trump’s acting attorney general pick was an unnecessary self-inflicted wound — but not a fatal one, Hugh Hewitt, Nov. 11, 2018. The appointment of acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker strikes many as possibly unconstitutional and even more as an utterly unnecessary self-inflicted political wound by the president. A “regular order” acting attorney general would have avoided igniting conspiracy theories. Replacing Whitaker quickly could still douse those that have been lit.

Nov. 10

Trump's AG Pick: Unfit?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: There is no way this man should be running the Justice Department, Editorial Board, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Is Matthew G. Whitaker the legitimate acting attorney general?

matthew whitaker headshot recentFrom approximately the second President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tapped Mr. Whitaker, right, to temporarily exercise the office’s vast authority, legal experts have sparred over whether Mr. Trump can unilaterally elevate someone from a role that does not require Senate confirmation to one that does.

But regardless of whether the promotion is legal, it is very clear that it is unwise. Mr. Whitaker is unfit for the job.

Several prominent legal scholars point out that the Constitution demands that “principal officers” of the United States must undergo Senate confirmation. The Senate above all should be offended by the president’s end run around its authority.

And Mr. Whitaker is worse than random. It took less than 24 hours for material to emerge suggesting he could not survive even a rudimentary vetting.

  • First, there are Mr. Whitaker’s statements criticizing the Russia probe of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
  • Then there is Mr. Whitaker’s connection to a defunct patent promotion company the Federal Trade Commission called “an invention-promotion scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” Mr. Whitaker served on its board and once threatened a complaining customer, lending the weight of his former position as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa to the company’s scheme.
  • Finally, and fundamentally most damning, is Mr. Whitaker’s expressed hostility to Marbury v. Madison, a central case — the central case — in the American constitutional system. It established an indispensable principle: The courts decide what is and is not constitutional. Without Marbury, there would be no effective judicial check on the political branches, no matter how egregious their actions.

If the Senate were consulted, it is impossible to imagine Mr. Whitaker getting close to the attorney general’s office. He should not be there now.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, FBI Is Investigating Florida Company Where Whitaker Was Advisory-Board Member, Mark Maremont and James V. Grimaldi, Nov. 9, 2018. Active case is being handled by FBI Miami office; acting attorney general oversees FBI.

fbi logoThe Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal investigation of a Florida company accused of scamming millions from customers during the period that Matthew Whitaker, the acting U.S. attorney general, served as a paid advisory-board member, according to an alleged victim who was contacted by the FBI and other people familiar with the matter.

The investigation is being handled by the Miami office of the FBI and by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

matthew whitaker agGuardian, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, Jon Swaine, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Matthew Whitaker, a former US attorney in Iowa, was paid to work as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing (WPM), a Florida-based company accused by the US government of tricking aspiring inventors out of millions of dollars. Earlier this year, it was ordered to pay authorities $26m.

Several veterans, two of them with disabilities, said they lost tens of thousands of dollars in the WPM scam, having been enticed into paying for patenting and licensing services by the impressive credentials of Whitaker and his fellow advisers. None said they dealt with Whitaker directly.

“World Patent Marketing has devastated me emotionally, mentally and financially,” Melvin Kiaaina, of Hawaii, told a federal court last year, adding that he trusted the firm with his life savings in part because it “had respected people on the board of directors”.

  • Matthew Whitaker was paid advisory board member for WPM
  • Veteran: ‘I spent the money on a dream. I lost everything’

The 60-year-old said he was a disabled veteran US army paratrooper and paid the company in 2015 and 2016 to patent and promote his ideas for fishing equipment.

“I received nothing for the $14,085 I paid to the company, other than a bad quality drawing and logo that my grandson could have made,” he said.

Kiaaina and other WPM customers described their experiences in declarations to court written under penalty of perjury, as part of a civil lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against WPM and its chief executive, Scott Cooper. Emails filed as evidence to the case showed desperate customers begging Cooper and his team for their money back.

“You have caused me tremendous grief, I can’t sleep, my stress level is at an all-time high and the last of my savings has been stolen with nothing to show for it,” one unemployed widow, who lost $8,000, wrote to Cooper in December 2016. Another inventor who paid $12,000 said he was left with “a stress related condition that is eating away at my hair”.

In particular, WPM promoted itself as a champion of those who served in the military. “Not only do we honor the veterans and soldiers of our armed forces but we are also celebrating what they are protecting - the American dream,” it said in a statement timed for Veterans Day 2014, which highlighted Whitaker’s role at the firm. WPM claimed to have made an unspecified donation to the Wounded Warrior Project nonprofit, which did not respond to an email seeking confirmation of the payment.

Another WPM client, Ryan Masti, who served in the navy and suffers from dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), said a WPM representative boasted of the company’s connections to Whitaker and Mast in a promotional telephone call that persuaded him to hand over money.

Masti told the court he lost more than $75,000 after paying WPM to register, develop and promote his idea for “Socially Accepted”, a social network aimed at people with disabilities. He said that in return he received only a press release, a logo and a shoddy website template.Advertisement

Whitaker publicly vouched for WPM, claiming in a December 2014 statement it went “beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate[d] those words into action.” He said: “I would only align myself with a first-class organisation.”

But customers reported to authorities that they had been treated unethically by a company that, beneath its glossy marketing pamphlets, was a shabby operation.

Having voted for Trump enthusiastically in 2016, Masti said on Friday he would soon be changing his party affiliation to Democratic, following the president’s elevation of Whitaker.

“It’s totally ridiculous,” said Masti. “It makes the whole Republican party look so bad. How could a president appoint someone like this? And then not have a problem about it when it comes out? He should be taking care of the victims.”

cnn logoCNN, Whitaker's controversial prosecution of a gay Democrat, Drew Griffin, Collette Richards and Patricia DiCarlo, Nov. 10, 2018. When Iowa state Sen. Matt McCoy learned Donald Trump had appointed Matthew Whitaker to be acting attorney general of the United States, he was aghast -- he believes Whitaker was behind a politically motivated prosecution that was personally "devastating" to him.

Whitaker has been facing questions from reporters about whether the case was politically motivated since the day the indictment was announced in 2007. An editorial in the Des Moines Register soon after McCoy was acquitted called for the government to compensate McCoy for his legal fees and questioned, "Was the McCoy prosecution a product of poor judgment, inexperience, misplaced zeal or partisan politicking? Perhaps all of the above."

Nov. 9

Trump's New Attorney General

Vox, Exclusive: Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker was counseling the White House on investigating Clinton, Murray Waas Nov 9, 2018. Whitaker advised the president on launching a new special counsel while working as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

matthew whitaker screengrabMatthew Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump named as his acting attorney general on Wednesday, privately provided advice to the president last year on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to investigate the president’s political adversaries, Vox has learned.

Whitaker (shown in a file photo) was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before he became the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017. That has rightfully raised concerns that Whitaker might now attempt to sabotage Mueller’s investigation. But new information suggests that Whitaker — while working for Sessions — advocated on behalf of, and attempted to facilitate, Trump’s desire to exploit the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the president’s enemies.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump demanded that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into whether the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” his presidential campaign and whether Obama administration officials were involved in this purported effort. Trump, his Republican allies in Congress, and conservative news organizations — most notably Fox News — were making such claims and amplifying those of others, even though they offered scant evidence, if any, that these allegations were true.

Sessions, Rosenstein, and other senior department officials believed that if they agreed to Trump’s wishes, doing so would constitute an improper politicization of the department that would set a dangerous precedent for Trump — or any future president — to exploit the powerful apparatus of the DOJ and FBI to investigate their political adversaries. Those efforts, in turn, coincided with the president’s campaign to undermine Mueller’s investigation into whether the president’s campaign aides, White House advisers, and members of his own family colluded with Russian to help Trump win the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general was paid by firm the FTC called a ‘scam,’ Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Former customers of World Patent Marketing, which was forced to pay a settlement and cease operations, expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

When federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa.

matthew whitaker agIt is unclear how Whitaker, shown at right, — who was appointed acting attorney general by President Trump on Wednesday — responded to a Federal Trade Commission subpoena to his law firm.

In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.

In May of this year, a federal court in Florida ordered the company to pay a settlement of more than $25 million and close up shop, records show. The company did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

Whitaker’s sudden elevation this week to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions has put new scrutiny on his involvement with the shuttered company, whose advisory board he joined in 2014, shortly after making a failed run for U.S. Senate in Iowa.

At the time, he was also running a conservative watchdog group with ties to other powerful nonprofits on the right and was beginning to develop a career as a Trump-friendly cable television commentator.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker,’ Despite Several Oval Office Visits, Matthew G. Whitaker, Eileen Sullivan and Katie Benner, Nov. 9, 2018. The acting attorney general chosen by President Trump, is said to have easy chemistry with the president. Mr. Whitaker now oversees the Russia inquiry, which he said has gone too far and should not be permitted to investigate the president’s finances.

President Trump went out of his way on Friday to distance himself from Matthew G. Whitaker, his choice to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, saying repeatedly that he did not know Mr. Whitaker and had not spoken to him and emphasizing that the new attorney general was merely “there in an acting position.”

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he left Washington for a weekend trip to Paris. But the president stressed that he did know Mr. Whitaker’s reputation well, calling him “a very respected man.”

The faint presidential praise came just two days after Mr. Trump unceremoniously dumped Mr. Sessions, putting Mr. Whitaker in charge of the Justice Department and the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Since then, criticism has mounted about Mr. Whitaker’s lack of credentials to be the nation’s top law enforcement official, along with allegations that he has conflicts of interest that should keep him from overseeing the Russia inquiry.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s top Democrat, sent a letter to Mr. Trump on Friday saying that the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was chief of staff to Mr. Sessions, was unconstitutional.

More On New Attorney General

ben wittes brookingsThe Atlantic, Opinion: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller, Benjamin Wittes (right, Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Nov. 9, 2018. The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

Eighteen months ago, I said, President Donald Trump had an opportunity to disrupt the Russia investigation: He had fired the FBI director and had rocked the Justice Department back on its heels. But Trump had dithered. He had broadcast his intentions too many times. And in the meantime, Mueller had moved decisively, securing important indictments and convictions, and making whatever preparations were necessary for hostile fire. And now Democrats were poised to take the House of Representatives. The window of opportunity was gone.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Mueller probe could be in mortal danger, Harry Litman, Nov. 9, 2018. Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and practices law at the firm Constantine Cannon. He was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2001 and deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1998.

How serious is the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions and the installation of his chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as acting attorney general? And what does it portend for the Mueller probe and related investigations?

The first question is easy: It is as serious as a heart attack. Whitaker’s appointment, which President Trump effectuated before all of the midterm election results were even final, immediately divested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein of his oversight authority of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, As a Senate candidate, Whitaker said he won’t support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch,’ Michael Kranish and Robert Barnes​, Nov. 9, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful 2014 run, have drawn new scrutiny since he was named acting attorney general.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker has said that judges should have a “biblical view,” that he could not support nominees who are “secular” and declared that federal courts should be the “inferior branch” of government.

Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2014, have drawn new scrutiny since President Trump named him Wednesday to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In an April 25, 2014, debate, moderator Erick Erickson asked the candidates about their faith. Whitaker said that, if elected, he would want judges who “have a biblical view of justice, which I think is very important …”

Erickson interjected: “Levitical or New Testament?”

“I’m a New Testament,” Whitaker answered, according to an account at the time in the Des Moines Register. “And what I know is as long as they have that world view, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular world view, where this is all we have here on Earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about that judge.”

ny times logocharlie savageNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, right, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

In a Q. and A. when he sought the Republican nomination for senator in Iowa in 2014, Mr. Whitaker indicated that he shared the belief among some conservatives that the federal judiciary has too much power over public policy. He criticized many of the Supreme Court’s rulings, beginning with a foundational one: Marbury v. Madison, which established its power of judicial review in 1803.

“There are so many” bad rulings, Mr. Whitaker said. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues.”

The interview was among evidence that shed new light on Mr. Whitaker’s views, including disparagement of the Russia investigation, which he now oversees, and an expansive view of presidential power. Congressional aides, journalists and other observers scoured his record after Mr. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him with Mr. Whitaker, instantly raising questions about whether the president wanted a loyalist in charge at the Justice Department with the power to end the Russia investigation.

Groups throughout the nation marched on Thursday to support the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and to protest Mr. Whitaker’s appointment. Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities, including in Washington, Philadelphia, Omaha and Salt Lake City.

In New York, about 4,000 people marched from Times Square to Union Square, the police said. Protesters held signs and chanted “Trump is not above the law.” On Twitter, #ProtectMueller was trending.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Mueller Has a Way Around Trump and His Minions, Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton, Nov. 9, 2018. A road map from the Watergate prosecution shows a potential route for the special counsel to send incriminating evidence directly to Congress.

Whitaker Appointment Unconstitutional?

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional, Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). 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. Mr. neal katyal oKatyal, shown at left, and Mr. Conway, shown below at right via his Twitter photo (and husband of Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway), are prominent appellate lawyers.

What now seems an eternity ago, the conservative law professor Steven Calabresi published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in May arguing that Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional. His article got a lot of attention, and it wasn’t long before President Trump picked up the argument, george conway twittertweeting that “the Appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Professor Calabresi’s article was based on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. Under that provision, so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.

He argued that Mr. Mueller was a principal officer because he is exercising significant law enforcement authority and that since he has not been confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was unconstitutional. As one of us argued at the time, he was wrong. What makes an officer a principal officer is that he or she reports only to the president. No one else in government is that person’s boss. But Mr. Mueller reports to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. So, Mr. Mueller is what is known as an inferior officer, not a principal one, and his appointment without Senate approval was valid.

matthew whitaker agBut Professor Calabresi and Mr. Trump were right about the core principle. A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate. And that has a very significant consequence today.

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker, shown left in a new official photo, 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.

Neal K. Katyal (@neal_katyal) was an acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama and is a lawyer at Hogan Lovells in Washington. George T. Conway III (@gtconway3d) is a litigator at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker panics and locks down his Twitter account after his scandals explode, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Donald Trump, the only thing more consistent than his dirty scheming is the fact that he never bothers to do his homework before putting his schemes in motion.

We all know why he named Matthew Whitaker as his new Acting Attorney General: the guy has already said he thinks the Trump-Russia investigation should be shut down. But the part Trump missed, or doesn’t understand the importance of, is that Whitaker is a disaster in a thousand other ways.

It’s not just that Matthew Whitaker has gone on national television and pre-confessed to the obstruction of justice he intends to commit, making it much easier for the Democrats to build a case for forcing him to recuse himself. It’s that Whitaker is a complete train wreck in every way imaginable. For instance he was part of a scam company that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission last year. That’s right, Trump’s own federal government has already busted Whitaker and branded him a criminal, but Trump doesn’t seem to know or care. It gets worse.

After Democratic political operative Adam Parkhomenko began exposing Matthew Whitaker’s older pro-Russia tweets yesterday, Whitaker hit the panic button and locked down his Twitter account so that the public couldn’t see any of his old tweets. Those who visited Whitaker’s account last night were greeted with this message: “This account’s Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access to @MattWhitaker46’s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.”

If Matthew Whitaker has done this with the intention of deleting his scandalous older tweets, he’s going to be disappointed to learn that public internet archive services already have caches of his old tweets, and he can’t delete those. In any case, the Acting Attorney General of the United States just locked down his Twitter account because his scandals are exploding so severely. That’s beyond precedent. He just made it even easier for the Democrats to use his scandals to push him out of a job.

Nov. 8

Whitaker Helped Promote Scam Company

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general once promoted a company accused of deceiving clients, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Nov. 8, 2018. Former customers of World Patent Marketing expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

matthew whitaker screengrabWhen federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa (shown in a screen shot).

ftc logoIt is unclear how Whitaker — who was appointed acting attorney general by President Trump on Wednesday — responded to a Federal Trade Commission subpoena to his law firm.

In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.

In May of this year, a federal court in Florida ordered the company to pay a settlement of more than $25 million and close up shop, records show. The company did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

New Insights On Mueller Probe

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Conservative Scholars Dispute Whitaker appointment, expert guests, Nov. 8, 2018. At least two prominent conservative scholars disputed President Trump's power to promote Justice Department Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker to the post of acting attorney general without senate confirmation.

Those scholars are University of California at Berkeley Law School professor John Yoo, a high-level Justice Department appointee during the George W. Bush presidency, and Fox News commentator and former New Jersey state court judge Andrew Napolitano.

Their views were reported by several MSNBC hosts, among others, who separately quoted guest Neal Katyal as saying many individuals would have "standing" before the courts to challenge Whitaker's powers, particularly if Whitaker seeks to thwart Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of the Trump Administration.

Host Lawrence O'Donnell, formerly a longtime Democratic staffer for the U.S. Senate, also warned that Whitaker could be liable for the obstruction of justice charges that have a five-year statute of limitations that could extend into a Democratic administration.

In related news, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team told a federal appeals panel how newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is now kept informed of the special counsel's work and can affect major decisions.

Prosecutor Michael Dreeden made the comments in response to questions from a three-judge panel hearing arguments from Andrew Miller, a reluctant witness before the special counsel's grand jury probe into the activities of GOP consultant Roger Stone. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on the comments. The events were at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. The Justice Integrity Project visited the courthouse vicinity based on a tip advising of unusual activity at the courthouse.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Once Declared Courts ‘the Inferior Branch,’ Nov. 8, 2018. The newly installed head of the Justice Department, Matthew G. Whitaker, also criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts. In a Q. and A. in 2014, Mr. Whitaker espoused views that a constitutional scholar called “internally contradictory” and “ignorant.”

washington post logocatherine rampellWashington Post, Commentary: Matthew Whitaker has experience advising con artists. Will he help more under Trump? Catherine Rampell, right, Nov. 8, 2018. Many assume Matthew G. Whitaker was chosen as acting attorney general because he criticized the Russia probe, said he would have indicted Hillary Clinton and otherwise looks like a die-hard Trump loyalist.

But maybe Whitaker really was picked because he has experience advising con artists.

Whitaker, after all, was involved with a Miami-based firm that federal regulators shut down last year as an alleged scam. The firm, World Patent Marketing, promised aspiring inventors that it would patent and market their brainchildren, based on what a 17-page Federal Trade Commission complaint characterized as bogus “success stories” and other false claims.

Among the many, many ways this company hoodwinked customers, according to the FTC complaint: It claimed its customers’ inventions were sold in “big box” stores such as Walmart and Target, when in fact none were; it claimed it owned a manufacturing plant in China, though no such plant existed; and it said its board of advisers (“Invention Team Advisory Board”) personally reviewed customers’ invention ideas, when the board did no such thing.

The company allegedly bilked some customers out of their life savings and threw others deeply into debt; a Miami New Times exposé found that some had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In return, the company “provided almost no service,” according to the FTC.

Just as bad, when customers complained or asked for refunds, the FTC said, the company resorted to threats and intimidation.

Sometimes this involved ominous references to World Patent Marketing’s “intimidating security team, all ex-Israeli Special Ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.”

Mostly, the message came from lawyers. Including Whitaker.

Whitaker was on the World Patent Marketing’s “Invention Team Advisory Board” — yes, that body the FTC said was falsely advertised as reviewing customers’ creations. The company touted Whitaker’s credentials as a former U.S. attorney and Republican Senate candidate. Whitaker publicly vouched for the firm in promotional materials.

Investigator's Report Announced

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: General release of Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author of 16 books, including the recent Trump's Bananas Republic, and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 8, 2018 (Most WMR columns are subscription only but this article is available to the general public.)

Since WMR began developing and maintaining the "Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map" in 2017, it has been WMR's intention to release it to the general public the moment Donald Trump made a hostile move on the Department of Justice and specifically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions — who was recused from overseeing the collusion investigation of Trump's and his family's criminal foreign entanglements — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are all being targeted by Trump and his criminal associates in an attempt to hide the Trump Organization's close connections to and involvement with major international criminal networks.

The Trump-Mafia Road Map illustrates the myriad nature of Trump's criminal enterprises. Due to its size and compression, the .PDF file [download here] must be expanded by at least 400 times, using a .PDF viewer, for proper reading and scrolling.

sam clovis fox news CustomOn November 7, Trump fired Sessions, removed Rosenstein from overseeing Mueller's investigation, and named, as acting Attorney General, the Attorney General's chief of staff Matt Whitaker, a GOP operative from Iowa and a close friend and political associate of Sam Clovis, left, a Trump campaign official and a witness called before a grand jury empanelled by Mueller.

This "Wednesday afternoon massacre" was the first step toward Trump's shutting down the important work of Mueller and his team of investigators.

There is an inter-active version of the Road Map. It contains side notes and other relevant information. It can be accessed by clicking here. If you choose this viewing method, be prepared for very long load times. This is a massive document. Your device may freeze during accessing. We are, therefore, recommending only downloading the PDF document.

djt roy cohn mob clients carmine galante john gotti tony salerno1533348924301

Reuters via New York Times, Whitaker’s Friendship With Trump Aide Reignites Recusal Debate, Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018. President Donald Trump's pick for acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, is a close friend of Trump's 2016 election campaign co-chair, and a former government ethics chief said the friendship makes Whitaker unable to oversee impartially a politically charged investigation into the campaign.

Matthew Whitaker, named on Wednesday to replace Jeff Sessions, will directly oversee Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into possible links between Trump's campaign team and Russian officials.

Whitaker publicly criticized Mueller’s investigation before he was hired as Sessions’ chief of staff last year.

walter shaubSam Clovis, who was co-chair of Trump's 2016 campaign and has testified before the grand jury in the Mueller investigation, said he and Whitaker became good friends when they ran against each other as Republicans in a 2014 Senate primary campaign in Iowa. Whitaker also later served as the chairman of a Clovis campaign for state treasurer.

Walter Shaub, right, who was director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for four years before resigning in July 2017, said the friendship between Whitaker and Clovis should disqualify Whitaker from supervising the Mueller investigation.

More On Trump Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting attorney general said to have no plans to recuse from Russia probe, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 8, 2018. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people close to him who added they do not believe he would approve any subpoena of President Trump as part of that investigation.

matthew whitaker agSince stepping into his new role on Wednesday, Whitaker (left) has faced questions — principally from Democrats — about whether he should recuse from the Russia investigation, given that he has written opinion pieces in the past about the investigation, and is a friend and political ally of a witness.

On Thursday, two people close to Whitaker said he has no intention of taking himself off the Russia case.

Ethics officials at the Justice Department are likely to review his past work to see if he has any financial or personal conflicts. In many instances, that office does not require a Justice Department official to recuse, but suggests a course of action. In the past, senior Justice Department officials tend to follow such advice, but they are rarely required to do so, according to officials familiar with the process.

Palmer Report, Analysis, Buzz says Donald Trump Jr is on the verge of arrest, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2018. Yesterday, Donald Trump made the too little, too late move of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Special Counsel Robert Mueller had by all accounts already reached the finish line of his investigation. The question was why the usually-tepid Trump pulled the trigger at all. Now there’s suddenly buzz everywhere that Donald Trump Jr is on the verge of arrest. This is bolstered by the fact that one of the people making this assertion is Junior himself.

Donald Trump Jr has been running around telling people that he thinks he’s going to get indicted soon, according to New York Magazine and Politico. But this report is just the start of it. Now the Democratic Coalition has just announced that according to its sources, Junior’s arrest is “imminent.” Other usually-reliable pundits are floating the same thing. But really, this comes back to Junior’s own claim that he’s about to get popped – and yes, there are ways he could know it’s about to happen.

For instance, Robert Mueller’s people told Paul Manafort in advance that he was about to be indicted and arrested, in the hope of convincing him to cut a plea deal. It’s not quite as clear why Mueller would give Donald Trump Jr an advance heads-up, as he’s not going to flip on his father, at least not right away. That said, if Mueller has hauled Junior’s associates before a grand jury, they could have tipped him off about how far Mueller has progressed.

There are a couple key things to keep in mind here. We don’t know if Robert Mueller is planning to nail Donald Trump Jr for Trump-Russia collusion right out of the gate, or if he might initially have someone like SDNY nail Junior on more-easily-proven financial crimes instead. If Mueller hands it off, that would help circumvent any potential complications raised by Jeff Sessions’ recent firing. Also, if Junior is about to be arrested, it would mean he’s already been indicted, and it’s under seal. Stay tuned.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: This is what the firing of Mr. Sessions could mean for the Russia investigation, Charlie Savage, Nov. 8, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appoint Mr. Sessions’s former chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting head of the Justice Department immediately raised questions about what the move means for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation.

What does this mean for the Mueller investigation?

The shake-up means that Mr. Whitaker assumes oversight of the inquiry from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

jeff sessions ag oMr. Sessions, left, recused himself from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, citing his role as an active Trump supporter, so Mr. Rosenstein has been serving as acting attorney general for the investigation into whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference and whether Mr. Trump obstructed the inquiry itself. He appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel.

But because Mr. Whitaker is not recused from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, as Mr. Sessions was, he takes over the case. Mr. Rosenstein goes back to his day job overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Justice Department.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, Nov. 8, 2018. The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

In a Q. and A. when he sought the Republican nomination for senator in Iowa in 2014, Mr. Whitaker indicated that he shared the belief among some conservatives that the federal judiciary has too much power over public policy. He criticized many of the Supreme Court’s rulings, beginning with a foundational one: Marbury v. Madison, which established its power of judicial review in 1803.

“There are so many” bad rulings, Mr. Whitaker said. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues.”

The interview was among evidence that shed new light on Mr. Whitaker’s views, including disparagement of the Russia investigation, which he now oversees, and an expansive view of presidential power. Congressional aides, journalists and other observers scoured his record after Mr. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him with Mr. Whitaker, instantly raising questions about whether the president wanted a loyalist in charge at the Justice Department with the power to end the Russia investigation.

Groups throughout the nation marched on Thursday to support the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and to protest Mr. Whitaker’s appointment. Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities, including in Washington, Philadelphia, Omaha and Salt Lake City.

In New York, about 4,000 people marched from Times Square to Union Square, the police said. Protesters held signs and chanted “Trump is not above the law.” On Twitter, #ProtectMueller was trending.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump’s new Acting Attorney General stooge Matthew Whitaker is already crashing and burning, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2018. After he fired Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump could have picked just about anyone to be his new Acting Attorney General. Trump has any number of loyal stooges who would be willing to do his corrupt bidding in this role. But as it turns out, Trump – true to form – picked the one guy who is already crashing and burning in real time.

matthew whitakerThe key to secretly putting your own corrupt stooge in power is to make sure it’s actually a secret. Donald Trump, who becomes more divorced from reality by the hour, doesn’t appear to understand that concept. Of all the stooges available, Trump chose Matthew Whitaker, right, – a guy who has spent the past several months flat out admitting on television and in writing that he thinks Trump should be shielded from any attempt at investigation.

If Trump had picked anyone else as Acting Attorney General, House Democrats would have had to wait for that person to actually commit obstruction of justice, and get caught doing it, before they’d be able to make any headway in forcing that person out. But because Matthew Whitaker has already publicly and repeatedly pre-confessed his intent to commit obstruction on Trump’s behalf, the Democrats can immediately make headway in taking this guy down.

In fact Nancy Pelosi is already calling for Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself. Will it happen? We’ll see. Keep in mind that Donald Trump installed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General specifically to protect himself in the Trump-Russia investigation, yet as soon as Sessions found himself facing potential criminal culpability of his own, he quickly recused himself. Whitaker is already crashing and burning; we’ll see how bad it gets for him.

ny times logoRobert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)New York Times, Opinion: Mueller Was Running on Borrowed Time. Has It Run Out? Editorial Board, Nov. 8, 2018. The president seems to want a lawman he can control. Robert Mueller (shown in a file photo), the special counsel, always knew he was running the Russia investigation on borrowed time. That time may have just run out on Wednesday afternoon, when President Trump ousted his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, less than 24 hours after Republicans lost their eight-year lock on the House of Representatives.

So who’s going to protect Mr. Mueller now?

rod rosenstein indict russians 7 13 2018 screeengrabUntil Wednesday, the job was being performed ably by Rod Rosenstein (shown in a screengrab), the deputy attorney general who assumed oversight of the Russia investigation when Mr. Sessions recused himself in March 2017.

Under Mr. Rosenstein’s leadership, the investigation Mr. Mueller took over has resulted in the felony conviction of the president’s former campaign chairman, guilty pleas from multiple other top Trump aides and associates and the indictments of dozens of Russian government operatives for interfering in the 2016 election. For more than a year, Mr. Rosenstein walked a political tightrope, guarding Mr. Mueller’s independence on the one hand while trying to appease Mr. Trump’s increasingly meddlesome demands on the other.

The good news is that no one, including Mr. Whitaker, can stop the multiple prosecutions or litigation already in progress — including the cooperation of Paul Manafort; the sentencing of Michael Flynn; or the continuing investigation of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump's former lawyer, and the Trump Organization by federal prosecutors in New York. The courts will have the final say on what happens in each of those cases.

Nov. 7

Sessions Resigns: Threat To Mueller?

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump’s request, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 7, 2018. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department on Oct. 26.

jeff sessions ag oAttorney General Jeff Sessions resigned on Wednesday at President Trump’s request, ending the tenure of a loyalist he soured on shortly after Sessions took office in 2017 because the former senator from Alabama had recused himself from oversight of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite the tension with the White House, Sessions had described the position of top law enforcement officer as his dream job and he pursued his conservative agenda with gusto. But he also had to live with sometimes humiliating attacks from a president he couldn’t seem to please and the suspicions of career staff members who feared the politicization of a Justice Department that prides itself on its independence.

Department veterans have expressed concerns that Trump’s repeated public attacks on Sessions, the Justice Department and the FBI could cause lasting damage to federal law enforcement.

Sessions, 71, was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump, and in many ways he had been the biggest supporter of the president’s policies on immigration, crime and law enforcement.

But all of those areas of agreement were overshadowed by the Russia investigation — specifically, Sessions’s recusal from the inquiry after it was revealed that he had met more than once with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 campaign even though he had said during his confirmation hearing that he had not met with any Russians.

Trump has never forgiven Sessions for that decision, which he regarded as an act of disloyalty that denied him the protection he thought he deserved from his attorney general. “I don’t have an attorney general,” he said in September.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sessions’s ouster throws future of special counsel probe into question, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2018. The new acting attorney general could sharply curtail Robert S. Mueller III’s authority or budget.

matthew whitakerTrump named as acting attorney general Matthew F. Whitaker, right, Session’s chief of staff, who as a legal commentator last year wrote that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appeared to be taking his investigation too far.

A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Whitaker would assume final decision-making authority over the special counsel probe instead of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Since last year, Rosenstein has overseen the investigation because Sessions, a key Trump surrogate in 2016, recused himself from dealing with matters involving the campaign. It wasn’t immediately clear what role, if any, Rosenstein may play in the probe going forward.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Analyst: Sessions Replacement 'Worst Possible,' Katie Tur interview of Matthew Miller, Nov. 7, 2018. Former Obama Administration Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that President Trump's replacement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions with his replacement, Chief of Staff Matthew G. Whitaker is the "worst possible" choice

That's because, in Miller's view, a 2017 Whitaker opinion column for CNN described as improper any attempt by the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III to probe Trump's finances or the behavior of his family. Whitaker wrote that it would be a "red line" if Mueller extends the probe into matters not covered by the "four corners" of his initial appointment.

matthew whitaker cnn july 26 2017 don lemon SmallThat would presumably exclude Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 campaign meeting at Trump Tower with Russian operatives to obtain dirt on rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "I doubt if you could find any other person at the Justice Department" who has taken that position, Miller said. Whitaker is shown second from the left in a screenshot from a CNN interview on the topic by host Don Lemon, at far left, on July 26, 2017.

Miller said that the appointment poses a "red alert" to the continued viability of the Mueller investigation but would probably not result in Mueller's firing. Instead, Miller said, the Justice Department is likely to simply sit on any new Mueller findings and never approve major new indictments or forward any report to congressional authorities. Miller said it is a time for the public to think of taking to the streets in protest of new developments.

Sessions had been recused from supervision of the Mueller probe because of a Sessions conflict whereby some of his own activities. Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein had been supervising Mueller but that authority is now likely to transfer to Whitaker, who had been a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Iowa from 2004 to 2009.

Justice Department log circularTrump is now under investigation for, among other possible crimes, obstruction of justice for his firing of FBI director James Comey who was investigation allegations of election rigging in 2016 with Russian influence.

MSNBC analyst Robert Costa, a Washington Post reporter, said that Whitaker is a "hard-right" Republican partisan Costa observed years ago in Whitaker's unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa.

Another MSNBC analyst, former Justice Department executive Chuck Rosenberg, told host Nicole Wallace that the circumstances of Whitaker's appointment might be highly relevant to a Mueller obstruction of justice probe.

NBC analyst and author John Heilmann said that Trump has installed a "lackey" in Whitaker instead of the normal transition figure, Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, and is rather clearly moving towards thwarting the Mueller probe, thereby prompting a possible constitutional crisis.

The potential crime at issue in the Mueller probe is "ten times worse" than President Richard Nixon's Watergate cover up, according to historian Michael Bechloss, who said that Nixon was covering up a burglary, whereas Mueller's core probe is about alleged interference by Russia into the 2016 presidential election of Trump. 

matthew whitaker 2012 campaign statement cspanDeSmog, Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years, Sharon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2018.Today, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew G. Whitaker, who served as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would replace his boss. Sessions was forced from office a day after the midterm elections, which were rough for climate and anti-fracking measures around the country.

Whitaker (shown in a C-SPAN screenshot as a Republican surrogate during the 2012 presidential campaign) was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

“In other words, an organization ‘dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency’ gets 100 percent of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a vehicle for donors to elude transparency,” the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in 2016.

In 2014, FACT received $600,000 from DonorsTrust — the only donation it reported that year, according to OpenSecrets.org. An additional $500,000 flowed from DonorsTrust to FACT in 2015. And in 2016, DonorsTrust gave $800,000 to FACT, tax records show, as well as two additional donations, one for $100,000 and another for $450,000. That $2.45 million represents virtually all of FACT's entire reported receipts for those years (except for a total of $456 from 2015 to 2016).

In 2016, Whitaker earned $402,000 as FACT’s director and president, according to the organization’s tax filings. That followed reported compensation from FACT for Whitaker of $63,000 in 2014, and $252,000 in 2015.

His work included advocacy for causes backed by the fossil fuel industry.

As FACT’s executive director, Whitaker sought documents from the Attorneys General United for Clean Power Coalition, alleging in a 2016 op-ed that the Coalition “launched a campaign to silence many public policy organizations and even individuals for their work challenging liberal views on climate change, as well as private companies like ExxonMobil.”

That coalition, representing attorneys general from 17 states, included Eric Schneiderman, then attorney general for New York state, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, and Claude Walker of the Virgin Islands, who were all reportedly investigating ExxonMobil for failing to disclose what it knew about climate change to its investors for decades.

Whitaker labeled the probe of ExxonMobil, which has funded climate denial efforts to the tune of at least $33 million, “both unconstitutional and unethical” — but it recently led to charges against the company.

barbara underwoodLast month, following three years of investigation, Schneiderman’s successor Barbara Underwood, left, filed a 91-page lawsuit alleging that ExxonMobil had engaged in four counts of fraud.

“Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon — which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions,” Underwood said in a statement, according to Courthouse News. “Instead, Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations.”

FACT has also come under fire for its right-wing partisan bent.

“It’s perhaps worth noting that although FACT describes itself as a ‘non-partisan ethics watchdog,’ its ethics complaints are targeted overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) at Democrats, and it is funded entirely by an anonymous trust fund (a so-called ‘pass-through) favored by ultra-wealthy conservative donors, including Charles Koch,” the Global Anti-Corruption Blog wrote in September of this year.

As Acting Attorney General, Whitaker will replace Jeff Sessions, described as a “climate change skeptic” by the Washington Post for saying on the floor of Congress in 2015 that “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases.”

The Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs has not yet responded to questions about Whitaker and FACT sent by DeSmog.