Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out, and a man who once wrote the Russia probe was "going too far" is in.
President Trump announced Sessions' forced resignation in a Wednesday tweet, and revealed that Justice Department Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker would act in his place. Whitaker will also replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as head of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, NBC News and CBS News report. Whitaker, perhaps uncoincidentally, has some very strong feelings about Mueller's probe — and some bold suggestions for how Trump could slow it down.
Described as a "Trump loyalist" by The New York Times, Whitaker was reportedly slated to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had he resigned or been fired in September. He'd also been in talks to take former White House Counsel Don McGahn's job, the Times reports.
But before he'd risen through the ranks of the administration, Whitaker seemed firmly on Trump's side. He wrote a column for CNN in August 2017 explicitly titled "Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far," arguing that Mueller had limited authority to probe Trump's possible connections to Russia and he was definitely stepping over the line. And while Whitaker hasn't recommended outright firing Mueller, he did tell CNN in July 2017 that an attorney general could essentially stop the investigation by cutting Mueller's budget. Read his now-ominous quote below. Kathryn Krawczyk
Matt Whitaker last year:
"So I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.”https://t.co/MP4cilrWlK
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 7, 2018