Hundreds Rally For Mueller

Hundreds Rally For Mueller

Matthew Whitaker appointment ignites partisan firestorm

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trumps pick for acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, is a close friend of Trumps 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 Muellers investigation into possible links between Trumps campaign team and Russian officials.

Republicans lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than Democrats lost in 1994 or 2010, when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were in their first terms as president. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama both went on to win re-election two years after those midterm routs. And while Democrats also lost Senate seats in the first midterm elections under Presidents Clinton and Obama, Mr. Trumps Republicans defied the historical trend by adding to their Senate majority…Mr. Trump did something unusual by increasing turnout among his defenders as well as his opponents. Republicans felt that Mr. Trump had an agenda still worth fighting for, and they were heartened that on several key issues — perhaps most important, judicial appointments — the president had delivered what he promised. That helped to make Tuesday a good night for political engagement overall, and it kept Republican losses below what they would have been if Mr. Trump had simply been an unpopular and polarizing figure…Far from bringing about Mr. Trumps repudiation, whether by a defeated and regretful right or by the country as a whole, the midterm election has only firmed up the lines of conflict for the future. President Trump will be at the center of that conflict, not as an aberration or departure from the norms of politics but as an integral part of the Republican Party — its head as well as its right arm.

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

Sam Clovis, who was co-chair of Trumps 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.

I’m sorry, but I have to say this. You and only a handful of few others like Robert W. Merry and Paul Gottfried on TAC seem to understand this. Everyone else who doesn’t understand that this fight is about the heart and soul of America, and that the moderates *never* were moderates. There was no such haggling, hassling, violent attacks and demonstrable protests when the tenets of life broke down in the legalisation of abortion, Obergefall, and so on, and the ‘right’ wing is somehow to consolidate ALL the attacks, without ever punching back, and somehow they’re to be demonised for selecting a man who precisely does all to push back.

In an interview with Reuters, Clovis said Whitaker is a wonderful man and a dear friend. He added that Whitaker was a sounding board for him when Clovis worked for Trumps campaign.

Pat’s statement: ” As for those on the right—as they watch the left disparage the old heroes, tear down their monuments, purge Christianity from their public schools—they have come to conclude that their enemies are at root anti-Christian and anti-American.” Is (Pat’s quote) quite a mouthful. As we canter down the field toward Big Holiday (Verily Vacation) – I suspect there is a lot of truth in what he has the courage to state.

Walter Shaub, 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.  

“Out of power by any means necessary,” even when they commit evil acts all across the board. This is a war for the heart and soul of America, no compromise can be offered. But we too mustn’t sin, but act in accordance with a righteous anger. For sin has her wages, and all must pay, regardless of who it is. Let us not sin, and keep fighting on. Fight on America! Punch on, Buchanan, Merry, Gottfried, punch on, Trump!

Video: Demonstrators March Through Philadelphia In Support Of Mueller Investigation

Roanoke protesters rally at “Nobody is Above the Law” event

Whitaker has to recuse himself under DOJs regulation requiring recusal if you have a personal or political relationship with someone substantially involved in conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution, Shaub told Reuters.  

If the House Judiciary Committee of incoming chairman Jerrold Nadler wishes to impeach Trump for forcing Mueller to fish or cut bait, Trump’s allies should broaden the debate to the real motivation here of the defeated establishment: It detests the man the American people chose to lead their country and thus wants to use its political and cultural power to effect his removal.

 A DOJ regulation cited by Shaub states that employees may not supervise prosecutions or investigations that involve someone with a personal or political relationship.It says the possible conflict can be set aside if the employees supervisor judges that the relationship does not affect the officials impartiality or create the public perception of a conflict.

If Trump is a “victim” of anyone, it’s himself: his inherent dishonesty and rampant egotism seem to make him incapable of not lying and breaking the rules. This served him well as a corrupt real estate speculator, but if he continued this pattern as a candidate for office and then as an officeholder, he deserves exposure and punishment via the Mueller probe.

Trevor Potter, a former Republican commissioner on the Federal Election Commission who now leads the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for more transparency in elections, said the question of whether Whitaker should recuse himself depends on Clovis status in the Mueller investigation.

“It is past time for Mueller to prove these charges or concede he has a busted flush, wrap up his investigation and go home.” – Yes it is. But complex financial crimes take time to prove. Especially if the actors use every trick in the book to suppress evidence. But Mueller used some of the best forensic accountants and tax lawyers to get to the truth.

Video: Hundreds gather in Collier County to protest the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions

If he has a close personal friendship with someone who is involved in the investigation because of his role in the Trump campaign, then that would present a recusal issue, Potter said.

The author should be more careful of his words: to say Trump is “the man the American people chose to lead their country ” is to ignore the fact that he lost the popular vote by nearly three million. Trump is a busted flush, and there is no way he can manage an Electoral Collge hidden card now the public knows what he’s got up his sleeve.

Paul Rosenzweig, a fellow at the non-partisan R Street Institute which specializes in public policy, said he believed Whitakers friendship with Clovis is probably not a problem but that Whitaker should ask the DOJs Professional Responsibility and Accountability Office whether he has a conflict.

Irredeemable means nothing they ever do, think or say can make up for being deplorables. Even if they come to abandon Trump — even if they embrace the social justice warrior agenda and end by praising Allah, peace be upon him — irredeemable means it won’t be enough in Hillary’s eyes to make up for once having been deplorables.

Video: Jeff Sessions submits resignation letter to Trump

While he still led the government ethics office, Shaub last year advised the Justice Department to require Sessions recusal from the Mueller probe because Sessions had been a senior adviser to Trump during the election campaign.

Video: Jeff Sessions submits resignation letter to Trump

Sessions decision to recuse himself infuriated Trump. After months of publicly criticizing his attorney general, Trump asked him to resign on Wednesday.   

Whitakers selection by Trump as acting attorney general drew sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers, who described it as an attempt by the president to undermine and possibly end Muellers investigation. 

A crowd gathered at the Elmwood Park Amphitheater in Roanoke to protest President Donald Trumps firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his decision to replace him with Acting Attorney General Michael Whitaker.

Muellers team has netted convictions and guilty pleas from several Trump campaign staff members and advisers.

If theres one set of rules for one group of people in our country who are rich and powerful who are above the law, then we really dont have a democracy,” said Catherine Koebel, another protester.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, and describes Muellers investigation as a witch hunt.

The people in the White House are really scared right now, and I wouldnt put it past them to do anything to stop this investigation to keep from being exposed,” said one protester, Karen Cobb.

Moscow has denied U.S. security agencies allegations that it interfered in the election in a bid to help Trump.

To make sure that people understand that were watching, and that we are not going to stand for the destruction of our norms and our institutions,” Wallace Fuentes said.

A former U.S. attorney and conservative commentator, Whitaker last year wrote an opinion piece for CNN arguing that Mueller would be going too far if he investigated the Trump familys finances.

This group is protesting President Donald Trumps decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with acting attorney general Michael Whitaker.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker has always had his eye on a higher office, even willing to mount a campaign to become Iowa’s treasurer early in his career simply because the Republican Party needed a candidate.

Mr. Whitaker was trounced in the 2002 election, as expected. But the mundane position was not the goal, fellow Hawkeyes say. Rather, it was to ingratiate himself to the state Republican Party.

The group made it clear theyre no fan of Sessions either, but they said the goal is to protect Mueller and allow him to carry out a fair investigation.

After Jeff Sessions Ouster, Group Launches 6-Figure Ad Buy To Protect Mueller

“It was not a competitive race, but he put some goodwill in the Republican bank because of it,” said Guy Cook, a former federal prosecutor who has known Mr. Whitaker for nearly two decades.

They accuse President Donald Trump of crossing the line since he took office, but they said this time, things have really gone too far.

That race, while little remembered, was the start of Mr. Whitaker’s long climb toward higher political positions, ultimately leading to Wednesday, when President Trump named him the acting head of the Justice Department in place of ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Whitaker, speaking on CNN in 2017, said he had respect for Mueller and then went on to say he would be surprised if the special counsel had any concerns about the termination of Sessions and its effect on the investigation. Whitaker felt Mueller would focus on his job, regardless. But, in another interview that year, Whitaker also said he felt there was a red line for the probe.

Top Democrats on Capitol Hill, some of them soon to be powerful committee chairs, fired off letters ordering the White House, FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and others to preserve any records they have of Mr. Sessions’ forced resignation, in anticipation of a full congressional investigation.

Meanwhile, legal analysts questioned whether Mr. Trump had the power to leapfrog others, such as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and appoint Mr. Whitaker, who had been chief of staff at the department — a position that did not require Senate confirmation.

Neal K. Katyal, a former Obama administration acting solicitor general, and George T. Conway III, a lawyer and husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, wrote a New York Times column saying the move violates the Constitution’s requirement that all principal officers go through Senate confirmation.

No court challenge had been filed as of Thursday afternoon, leaving Mr. Whitaker ensconced in the position — and all sides wondering what sorts of changes he would make at the department.

In a statement Thursday, the Republican said Whitaker is a “steady hand that will provide good leadership and judgment, and will ensure that the United States Department of Justice upholds the highest standards of the rule of law.”

Marijuana enthusiasts, for example, may be expecting a shift in the department’s get-tough prosecution policy. Marijuana company stocks rose sharply Wednesday as Mr. Sessions was ousted.

Whitaker, a former US attorney from Iowa and a Hawkeye, has been an outspoken critic of the probe. Protestors worried Whitaker would use his new position to stifle the investigation before its conclusion.

Mr. Cook said Mr. Whitaker will be independent and described the acting attorney general as “a man of his word.”

A group of about 100 in front of the Old Capitol in Iowa City chanted “hands off Mueller” and called for protection of the investigation of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“He’s not to be underestimated,” he said. “He is a focused, disciplined guy and nobody’s fool. His reputation is important to him, and those things will come into play as he deals with being the attorney general in these times.”

“There is a very specific scope to this investigation,” Whitaker said. “Anything that is outside of Russian coordination or the 2016 campaign would be outside of the scope of that investigation.”

But F. Montgomery Brown, an Iowa lawyer who has faced off against Mr. Whitaker in the courtroom, worried that his ambition would be a problem.

Hes been described as a Trump loyalist and a possible threat to Special Counsel Robert Muellers probe.

“He’s flying too close to the sun,” said Mr. Brown, a Democrat. “Is attorney general a political job or a job for extremely talented legal professionals, because he’s a political man.”

Sessions, who recused himself from control of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, has been replaced by acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker, who has said he has no intention of recusing from the Russia probe and is not believed to approve any subpoena of Trump as part of that investigation. Whitaker has written opinion pieces about the investigation and is a friend and political ally of a grand jury witness.

Trumps Top Lawman Cut Teeth With Partisan Attacks, TV Spots

After his treasury defeat, Mr. Whitaker worked in Iowa to secure the re-election of President George W. Bush. He coordinated the campaign’s efforts for the Iowa caucuses and racked up credits within the local Republican Party. He was able to parlay his campaign work into confirmation as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa in 2004, despite never prosecuting a criminal case.

“Different parts of the country handle the U.S. attorney’s nominees differently,” Mr. Cook said. “Sometimes you see young people the party thinks is up and coming, sometimes it is given to career prosecutors and a lot of the time you see people rewarded the job for their political activism.”

“Wed like to protect democracy and keep the Mueller probe going because we deserve the truth,” Cathy Vaughan-Grabowski said as cars honked at the intersection. “Maybe theyll go home tonight and write a letter or email to their representative.”

In a defining moment for Iowa politics, Mr. Whitaker went toe-to-toe with state Sen. Matt McCoy, who was viewed as a rising star in state Democratic politics and was the first openly gay member of the Iowa Legislature.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking at the U.S. Marshals Service 37th Director's Honorary Awards Ceremony, at the Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Mr. Whitaker brought public corruption charges against Mr. McCoy in 2007, saying the senator used his position to force a former business partner to pay him money. Mr. McCoy insisted that the dispute was over a soured business relationship and that he did nothing wrong.

The case largely fell apart with the credibility of the government’s star witness. Former associates depicted the man, Thomas Vasquez, as a drug user, deadbeat and abuser of women. Even his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor called him a pathological liar. A jury acquitted Mr. McCoy in two hours, including time for lunch.

Mr. McCoy said he believes Mr. Whitaker targeted him as a Democrat and as a member of the LGBT community.

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and [email protected] Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Trumps White House braces for Muellers next move: New indictments? Final report?

“I think this was completely motivated by him wanting a trophy,” he said. “It was pure ambition, and winning a case against me would have been a political shot in the arm for a guy who had failed politically.”

Signs read “Saving the Mueller investigation saves our USA democracy,” as well as sayings linking Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At the time, Mr. Whitaker, who had strong ties to Iowa’s evangelical community, denied that politics or Mr. McCoy’s sexuality influenced the case.

“I do think the fact that Mr. McCoy was a Democrat and the state’s first openly gay legislator was a factor,” he said. “The two of them are polar opposites, and the jury declared the allegations were baseless with a prompt ‘not guilty’ verdict.”

Local Iowa papers roundly criticized the prosecution. The Des Moines Register in 2007 said the jury’s verdict was “the right one” and called the case an outrage.

Mr. McCoy said he fears Mr. Whitaker won’t be aggressive in prosecuting hate crimes against members of the LGBT community. He praised Mr. Sessions’ efforts to prosecute the killing of a 16-year-old transgender Iowa resident.

“The signal we got from DOJ is that they were going to continue to prosecute hate crimes very strong under Sessions, but I think Whitaker will be on the wrong side of this issue,” he said.

Mr. Whitaker resigned his prosecutor’s post in 2009 with the inauguration of President Obama. He went back into private practice and was co-chairman of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign.

In 2014, Mr. Whitaker ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, coming in third in a Republican primary.

He was later executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative nonprofit that was deeply involved in criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s secret emails.

Mitt Romney: Russia probe should continue despite Sessions firing

Mr. Whitaker also worked as commentator on CNN, where he made the now-famous comments about ending special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation by choking off the funding and argued for limiting the scope of the investigation that he is now running.

Although those statements have drawn media scrutiny in recent days, Mr. Cook noted that Mr. Whitaker made those comments while he was a private citizen.

“He was a paid pundit with a political point of view,” he said. “Those comments were made in that context, and he has a First Amendment right to make whatever comments he wants.”

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