Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, soon to be replaced by William Barr, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday and did some weird shit.
Whether it was the seemingly deliberate putting on/removal of his glasses, nodding along as Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia) called the hearing a waste of time, telling Committee chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) that his five minutes was up (resulting in audible gasps), or his giving credence to the idea that CNN being on scene for Roger Stone’s arrest may have been nefarious, a strong argument can be made that Whitaker did not exactly comport himself well before the nation.
That being said, an argument can also be made that Whitaker answered some key questions more definitively than anyone expected. Much was made heading into the proceeding about a subpoena threat and Whitaker waffling over whether he would even appear before the Committee.
Whitaker showed up, in the end, and did give yes or no answers to questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. The circumstances of Whitaker’s appointment as acting AG was always cause for concern, since he was replacing Jeff Sessions — a man who President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized publicly for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. The president blamed Sessions for everything that happened after his recusal.
Indeed, it was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who appointed Mueller as special counsel, and the special counsel’s investigation is still ongoing. Putting Whitaker in the role of oversight, after Whitaker had gone on TV and engaged in negative punditry about the Mueller investigation, only stoked fears that he was a puppet AG. Nor did reports about being involved with a scam firm under FBI investigation or concerns about his response to ethics advice help Whitaker’s case.
At a minimum, however, Whitaker has gone on record with yes or no answers to important questions. Whitaker said that, yes, he has been briefed on the Mueller probe, which is no great surprise.
He also said that he has not briefed President Trump on the Mueller investigation, which cuts at the heart of the puppet AG narrative.
He said that he has not briefed senior White House officials about the Mueller probe. He also said that he hasn’t interfered “in any way” with Robert Mueller’s work, which, again, was the fear.
Say what you will about how he said it, but he said it. If he wasn’t telling the whole truth that will probably come to light.
[Image via Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.