The Trump administration can be faulted for making a lot of poorly considered personnel decisions. Given the direction the Russia-collusion nonsense was going, it was a terrible idea to pick Jeff Sessions, a very active campaign surrogate for Trump, as Attorney General, when they had to anticipate that a special counsel was a very real possibility and that Sessions would be forced to recuse himself. They followed that decision by taking a path of least resistance by elevating the US Attorney for Maryland, Rod Rosenstein, to be deputy attorney general and thus placed a G. W. Bush appointee who was so inoffensive that he survived eight years as US attorney of a Democrat stronghold in line to supervise the special counsel.
This has worked out very well for The #Resistance and for Mueller and for Rosenstein. Rosenstein is obviously in awe of Mueller and has basically let him do whatever he wishes. His supervision is so lax that Mueller was not even given a crime or criminal acts to investigate. He was essentially told by Rosenstein to investigate the Trump administration until he found something he could prosecute and to keep going until he got tired.
With the firing of Jeff Sessions, things changed. Trump appointed Sessions’s chief of staff Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general and Whitaker let it be known that he had every intention of supervising Robert Mueller.
Acting attorney general Matthew G. 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.
Since stepping into his new role Wednesday, Whitaker has faced questions — principally from Democrats — about whether he should recuse himself from the Russia investigation, given that he has written opinion pieces about the investigation and is a friend and political ally of a grand jury witness.
On Thursday, two people close to Whitaker said he does not plan to take himself off the Russia case. They also said he is deeply skeptical of any effort to force the president’s testimony through a subpoena.
This set blood to squirting from various orifices on the left and among Never Trump as we discovered skepticism about the propriety of any potential act by the special counsel was unacceptable and tantamount to…I guess obstruction or treason or something really, really bad. Calls have been made for him to recuse.
It would seem that he has no intention of doing do: Ethics officials say Whitaker need not recuse from supervising special counsel probe, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker has been advised by Justice Department ethics officials that he need not recuse himself from the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, despite his intense public criticism of the probe in the past, a person familiar with the matter said.
As the Justice Department’s top official, Whitaker already had been supervising special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and was recently notified in advance of a key guilty plea in the case. The advice from department ethics officials bolsters his case to remain in charge, though Democrats and others will surely question whether he should still step aside to avoid the appearance of impropriety. In addition to his comments about Mueller, Whitaker is a friend and a political ally of a grand jury witness.
Apparently, Rosenstein will continue to supervise Mueller on a day-to-day basis but Whitaker will be kept updated and make decisions on substantive issues. Naturally, a lot of folks are not happy.
Remember that Whitaker:
*Publicly castigated the Mueller probe, calling it "Mueller's lynch mob"
*Suggested Trump fire Sessions so the next AG could cut funding for Mueller
*Is friends with Sam Clovis, a witness in the probe
*Said Trump's biz and finances should be off-limits https://t.co/RlVgqByiEW
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 20, 2018
Per @DelWilber, it sounds like the ethics official recommended Whitaker recuse himself from the special counsel's investigation, but "senior appointed" officials said otherwise. Whitaker went with otherwise. pic.twitter.com/AvPdXkuBc8
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) December 20, 2018
Breaking: Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker’s need to recuse based on his public comments about the special counsel investigation was considered a “close call” by the ethics official tasked with the review, Whitaker chose not to recuse – @LauraAJarrett reporting
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 20, 2018
What? Ethics officials said he should recuse, and he chose not to? That's wrong, wrong, wrong. More Trump administration illegality. We explain why, and also why recusal is actually not a close call:https://t.co/1a5Gn7AyMohttps://t.co/fB7xvSbZ4Fhttps://t.co/uODITruCnp https://t.co/liGCMTucxF
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) December 20, 2018
If an ethics official did, indeed, advise Whitaker to recuse on the grounds that some people might not like him in the position–at least that’s what the argument boils down to–Whitaker was well advised to say that in absence of a hard violation of ethics regulations that the people who were upset could f*** right off.
As I posted a little earlier, the nominee to take Sessions’s place, William Barr, seems to be of the same mind.
Either way, the days of Mueller doing what he wanted in the way he wanted to do it seem to be coming to an end.
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