Trump's Acting and Nominated AG Both Criticized Mueller Probe

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Despite the fact that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker once penned an op-ed for CNN entitled "Mueller's Investigation of Trump Is Going Too Far," ethics officials at the Justice Department "have advised him he does not need to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation," reports Laura Jarrett at CNN.
The source added Whitaker has been in ongoing discussions with ethics officials since taking the job in early November following the ouster of Jeff Sessions, who had stepped aside from overseeing the investigation due to his role as a Trump campaign surrogate during the 2016 election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the investigation following Sessions' recusal and his office is still managing the investigation on a day-to-day basis, as CNN has previously reported.

When, exactly, ethics officials signed off on Whitaker's role was not immediately clear, but as of last month, he had not stepped aside from participating in significant developments in the Russia investigation. He was informed ahead of time that Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen would plead guilty to lying to Congress about the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

Whitaker is expected to inform senators, many of whom have raised ethics concerns given his past criticism of Mueller's investigation, about this development later Thursday, the source said.
Presumably, the conclusion by officials in the department Whitaker is currently overseeing that he is under no obligation to recuse himself from overseeing an investigation that he criticized will be used by Donald Trump to formally remove oversight of Mueller's probe from Rosenstein and give it to Whitaker.

Meanwhile, Sadie Gurman and Aruna Viswanatha at the Wall Street Journal report that Trump's nominee for Attorney General, Bill Barr, "sent an unsolicited memo earlier this year to the Justice Department that excoriated special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump, saying it is based on a 'fatally misconceived' theory that would cause lasting damage to the presidency and the executive branch."

At TPM, Tierney Sneed's got a copy of the nearly 19-page memo (!) in which Barr argues, among other things, that Mueller "should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction."

So, to recap: The acting AG criticized the Mueller probe before he was elevated to the position, and has now been told he need not recuse himself from overseeing it. The nominated AG criticized the Mueller probe before he was nominated, and, we can assume, will also be told he need not recuse himself from overseeing it if he is confirmed.

Let us remember that both of these men are in the positions they are because Donald Trump was endlessly infuriated that ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from overseeing Mueller's probe.

It's almost like (it is exactly like) criticizing Mueller's investigation was Whitaker's and Barr's application for the position and their #1 qualification.

Trump is choosing the nation's top law enforcer on the basis of their demonstrated contempt for the law and willingness to protect him from consequences for lawbreaking.

This is what authoritarianism looks like.

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