I’ve just read that President Donald Trump has appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General after forcing AG Jeff Sessions out. Whitaker, who served as Sessions’ chief of staff, will now oversee Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mark Sumner, in the Daily Kos of November 9, writes that Whitaker “isn’t just a nut, he’s a dangerous nut.” Are Marcus (“crackpot”) and Sumner (“nut”) right about our new Attorney General? Given the President’s previous disastrous Cabinet appointments he probably is as described by the journalists, and consequently it’s not looking good for the rest of us.
Here’s the piece from the Daily Kos:
When Jefferson Sessions stepped down, the next in line at the Department of Justice should have been Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But putting Rosenstein in charge would have meant having someone who demonstrably had followed the rule of law instead of the edict of Trump, so he was bypassed in favor of Matthew Whitaker, a man whose qualifications literally consist of his demonstrated willingness to join Trump in the critical work of turning the American justice system to rubble.
Whitaker was so not considered the obvious replacement to Sessions, that there hadn’t been a lot of vetting of his background before his name appeared on Sessions’s “at your request” resignation. And now that people are looking at the man who is sitting in the AG office in violation of the Constitution, the ridiculousness of his appointment seems at least equal to that of Andrew Wheeler at EPA, or Rick Perry at Energy, or Ryan Zinke at Interior, or Scott Pruitt at EPA, or … name a Trump nominee.
But Whitaker is in a position, at a point in time, to be a special kind of crazy dangerous. As Whitaker explained to Caffeinated Thoughts, he believes the whole concept of judicial review has been wrong for the last 200+ years, right back to “the idea of Marbury v. Madison.”
Then there’s Whitaker’s role in setting up a company that was a scam from its inception. A role that Whitaker embraced by sending letters threatening legal action to anyone who complained of being taken for $2k, or $15k, or $70k while getting absolutely nothing in return. That company bilked some customers of their life savings—and Whitaker didn’t just profit from that theft, he made it possible. The Washington Post provides some details on the company where the new attorney general served as both board member and bullying lawyer….
How inferior does the current attorney general believe the courts to be? So inferior that following the law is optional. As part of the settlement after his fake company was called out by the FTC, Whitaker was ordered to repay the money he had been paid for serving on the board. But, as the Wall Street Journal reports, Whitaker did not respond to a demand letter. He not only kept his pay for working for the patent scam company, he also kept a $2,500 donation from the company to one of his failed campaigns.
The acting attorney general of the United States, the man running the Justice Department, is a man who believes the whole judicial branch is “the inferior branch” and who refused to pay back money he collected from a scam, even when ordered by the court. The nation’s chief law enforcement officer—does not believe in the law.
As Ruth Marcus put it in the Friday Washington Post, “Matthew Whitaker is a crackpot.” Which is completely, and obviously true. But she’s left out a word in that description. Matthew Whitaker is a dangerous crackpot. He’s in a position, at a time when he can deeply impact not just the investigation into Donald Trump’s conspiracy with Russian oligarchs, but the structure of the Justice Department, the nature and quality of the FBI, and the possibility of dealing with any matter fairly, under the rule of the “inferior” law. With a lame duck Republican Congress that is pointedly remaining silent about Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment, the Justice Department is in the cross-hairs of a crackpot.