The ‘Bullethead’ is in place and Trump is hoping Whitaker can put a hole in the Mueller probe into Trump and Russia. In the 48 hours since Trump fired Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, I have had occasion to wonder whether I was being overly optimistic a week ago. Whitaker is the kind of bad dream from which career Justice Department officials wake up at night in cold sweats. He’s openly political. The president is confident in his loyalty and that he won’t recuse himself from the investigation—notwithstanding his public statements about it and his having chaired the campaign of one of the grand-jury witnesses. There are legal questions about his installation at the department’s helm. And he’s known as the White House’s eyes and ears at Justice.
Whitaker is ultimately a placeholder. He can do damage while in office, but ultimately the president is going to have to name an attorney general, and the Senate is going to have to confirm that person. That means two big things: Trump has to name someone who can win confirmation, and the nominee has to personally face the Senate Judiciary Committee. The midterms strengthened the president’s hand in the Senate, both by increasing the Republican caucus and as a consequence of the departure of Republicans such as Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who might have been expected to take a stand against an unacceptable nominee. But there are still senators who might well draw some lines. And that has mattered in the past. The reason Chris Wray, and not someone wholly unacceptable for the role, is FBI director today is that confirmability required it. Moreover, the confirmation process offers a genuine and meaningful opportunity for senators to force a nominee publicly and under oath to commit himself or herself to supervising the investigation in a nonpolitical manner. These things matter. During Watergate, Elliot Richardson resigned as attorney general, rather than firing Archibald Cox, precisely because he had given the Senate his word that he would protect the special prosecutor.
Also, more lying from the ‘Orange Menace’. Trump Says ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker,’ Despite Several Oval Office Visits.
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