Matthew Whitaker, the temporary replacement for outgoing Attorney General Jeff Sessions until a permanent nominee is confirmed, does not look upon special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation favorably, raising the possibility that he might take action to curtail Mueller’s activity.
> “Whitaker will be the acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is nominated, Trump tweeted on Wednesday, and he’ll be overseeing the Mueller investigation directly in his new post. While he has touted Mueller’s character—“There is no honest person that sits in the world of politics, in the world of law, that can find anything wrong with Bob Mueller,” he told CNN last year—he seems to have already formed an opinion on the probe itself. In a tweet, Whitaker said an article that characterized Mueller’s investigators as a “lynch mob” was a “must read,” and he told CNN that if Sessions were fired, his replacement could “reduce” Mueller’s budget in such a way that it would grind his investigation almost to a halt. He also shared an article on Twitter that explored the process by which Trump could fire Mueller, said in a radio interview that “there is no criminal obstruction-of-justice charge to be had” against Trump, and defended the Trump campaign’s decision to meet with Russian nationals to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton—a meeting Mueller has been closely examining.“You would always take the meeting,” Whitaker told CNN last year. “You certainly want to have any advantage, any legal advantage you can.” Whitaker is also friendly with Sam Clovis—a key grand-jury witness in the Mueller probe—and chaired his state-treasurer campaign in 2014.
> Whitaker most clearly expressed his view of the Mueller probe in an op-ed last year, writing that the inquiry had gone “too far,” and arguing that the president’s personal finances were a “red line” that the special counsel had come “dangerously close to crossing.” (Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization earlier this year, but it is not clear which documents his team had requested. ) Whitaker added that “investigating Donald Trump’s finances or his family’s finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian government or anyone else. That goes beyond the scope of the appointment of the special counsel.”