Wilmington protestors join push to protect Mueller investigation after Sessions ouster

Wilmington protestors join push to protect Mueller investigation after Sessions ouster

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker Once Expressed Terrifying View Of Executive Power

Washington (CNN)As he was preparing to remove Jeff Sessions as attorney general, President Donald Trump had already begun reviewing with his lawyers the written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker once argued that an American president had such broad executive power that they could order any federal investigation be stopped without obstructing justice.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer 2/ Demonstrators in New York City stayed up late into the night. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon 3/ Mueller is believed have begun writing a final report on Russias interference in the 2016 US presidential election. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon Source: CNN

In a 2017 interview on The David Webb Show, first reported by Mother Jones, Whitaker argued that, amid reports Trump had asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, there was no case for obstruction of justice regardless of President Donald Trumps motives because the president is entitled to make such calls with his inherent authority.

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The interview came shortly after Comey was fired by Trump and while Whitaker, then the head of a conservative nonprofit group, was a regular commentator on right-leaning media.

There is no case for obstruction of justice because the president has all the power of the executive and delegates that to people like the FBI director and the attorney general, Whitaker argued. The president could, and has in our nations history, said stop investigating this person or please investigate this other person.

Sessions’ resignation, in a one-page letter to President Donald Trump, came one day after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives and was the first of several expected post-midterms Cabinet and White House departures. Though Sessions was an early and prominent campaign backer of Trump, his departure letter lacked effusive praise for the president and made clear the resignation came “at your request.”

He continued: This hyperventilation of what we see here is not sustainable based on these facts.

The departure was the culmination of a toxic relationship that frayed just weeks into Sessions’ tenure, when he stepped aside from the Russia investigation because of his campaign advocacy and following the revelation that he had met twice in 2016 with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Whitaker has already come under fire for deeply critical views of special counsel Robert Muellers probe that hed made in the past. In an interview with CNN in 2017, he argued that the inquiry could be kneecapped if the attorney general just reduces his budget so low that the investigation grinds almost to a halt. In a separate editorial for CNN, he wrote that Muellers team had already gone too close to a red-line during the scope of the probe. 

Rosenstein has several severe conflicts of interest when it comes to the Mueller probe and the Obama administrations spygate efforts against President Trump and his associates. Rosenstein signed off on multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to extend surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who was unfairly accused of being a Russian spy. The saga was only one instance of extreme overreach by members of the Obama administration. Rosenstein offered a weak wave-off of his role in the surveillance process, claiming he may not have read the whole FISA application before signing off on it.

It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel. Whitaker wrote. If he doesnt, then Muellers investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition.

Some prominent legal scholars have already lambasted the choice of Whitaker, including George Conway, the husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. In an op-ed for The New York Times on Thursday, George Conway argued that the appointment was unconstitutional and accused the president of seeking to evade requirements that an attorney general be confirmed by the Senate.

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Its illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid, Conway wrote with former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal.

Christie is an experienced prosecutor who served as the US attorney for New Jersey for six years until 2008. He ran against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but quickly dropped out. Christie later endorsed Trump and campaigned for him the rest of the race. 

Whitaker is legally allowed to serve as acting attorney general for no more than 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act but could be in the post longer while another individuals nomination is pending, according to the Times.


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