When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the position of attorney general, he did one thing that most agreed was a great idea. He recused himself from the investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. It was what any ethics adviser would suggest. In fact, it’s what advisers advised the Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to do. However, ethics and morality matter very little to many in Trump’s circle and that includes Whitaker.
After Sessions left his position as Trump’s attorney general, Trump temporarily placed Whitaker in the position. However, everyone has questioned whether Whitaker would recuse himself from the investigation.
After being advised that it would be best to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, it’s now come to light he does not plan to do so. The Los Angeles Times reported:
‘Whitaker sought guidance from advisors and ethics officials shortly after being tapped to take over as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. He did so because of critical comments he had made about the Mueller inquiry in interviews and writing done before he joined the government last fall as then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff.’
Oddly enough, the Justice Department leaked a statement saying Whitaker had been advised not to recuse himself; however, they were forced to walk that statement back.
According to the L.A. Times, it is unknown if and when Whitaker would be briefed on Mueller’s investigation.
In the past, Whitaker had criticized the Mueller investigation on air and in writings. At one point, Whitaker suggested the budget for the special counsel should be cut to a point that the investigation could no longer continue.
‘He suggested, for example, on CNN that he could envision a scenario where Sessions was replaced and his successor “just reduces [Mueller’s] budget to so low that his his investigation grinds to almost a halt.”‘
Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, has also made negative remarks regarding the Mueller investigation, which will surely lead to the same issue the Justice Department is experiencing now.
In response to Whitaker’s refusal to recuse himself, Senator Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) tweeted:
‘We can all see what’s happening here. It’s past time for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation protecting the Special Counsel’s investigation from political interference.’
He also noted Trump’s choices for positions within his administration are based on their opinions of the Mueller investigation.
‘It’s becoming pretty clear that the President is basing his choices for leadership at the Justice Department on candidates’ criticism of the Mueller investigation.’
Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also tweeted:
‘This ethics opinion must be shared with Congress. Now. DOJ officials must avoid not only actual impropriety but the appearance of impropriety. Given Whitaker’s prejudicial comments about Mueller, the public can have no confidence in him. We will scrutinize his every action.’
Whitaker’s refusal to recuse himself is not surprising. In fact, it would be more surprising if he actually did the right thing and did recuse himself. Whitaker is a Trump lackey. He knows Sessions was basically fired for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
To expect him to actually recuse himself based on what is ethical and right would mean he’d actually have to have moral integrity – something that many in the Trump circle lacks.
Featured image via Twitter screenshot.