Here We Go Again: Acting AG Whitaker Speaking with Ethics Officials About “Recusal”
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will speak with ethics officials at the Department of Justice about matters that “may warrant recusal.”
In a statement acquired by The Hill, DOJ Spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice, including consulting with senior ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal.”
Democrats have made repeated calls for Whitaker to recuse himself from his oversight responsibilities in the Russia investigation because he has previously spoken out against the Mueller investigation and the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.
Whitaker told radio host Andrew Wilkow that he does not believe there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“The truth is there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign,” he said. “There was interference by the Russians into the election, but that was not collusion with the campaign. That’s where the left seems to be combining those two issues.”
In the same interview, Whitaker stressed that there has been no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing with the Trump campaign and Russia. “The last thing they want right now is for the truth to come out, and for the fact that there’s not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign had any illegal or any improper relationships with the Russians,” he said.
In July 2017, Whitaker appeared on CNN where he suggested that a new Attorney General could reduce Mueller’s budget to grind the investigation to a halt:
On Sunday, Democrats sent a letter to a DOJ ethics official demanding his recusal from the Special Counsel investigation.
The letter reads, in part:
There are serious ethical considerations that require Mr. Whitaker’s immediate recusal from any involvement with the Special Counsel investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Whitaker has a history of hostile statements toward Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, including televised statements suggesting that the investigation
be defunded or subjected to strict limitations on its scope
Whitaker,48, was appointed Acting Attorney General last week, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at President Trump’s request. He previously served as Sessions’ chief of staff at the Department of Justice.
In 2004, Whitaker was appointed by President Bush as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and, in 2014, ran in the Iowa GOP Senate primary, where he lost to Joni Ernst.
He was managing partner of the Des Moines, Iowa law firm, Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP from November 2009 to September 2017.