Matthew Whitaker is an aide who has been selected to replace Attorney General Jeff Session as the interim Attorney General until Trump nominates a permanent replacement, according to a tweet by Trump on Wednesday.
Whitaker was the Chief of Staff to Sessions prior to Sessions’ departure. He is, unsurprisingly, a conservative. In the past, Whitaker has written op-eds in the past suggesting that the Mueller Investigation of Trump and the 2016 election has gone “too far,” and has also run for elected office three times in the past, all times as a Republican.
Whitaker will now be in control of the Mueller investigation.
Here’s what you need to know
Whitaker Has Publicly Spoken About His Desire to Emulate Conservatives Like Ted Cruz & Rand Paul in the Past
Whitaker has run twice for elected state office in the past, once unsuccessfully as State Treasurer for Iowa in 2002 and once successfully as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, from 2004 to 2009. In 2013, when he claimed to be taking steps to run for U.S. Senate, Whitaker said to WHO Radio that he wanted to emulate Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and to focus on holding government accountable.
Whitaker was defeated in the Republican primary in the Iowa Senate race in 2014, taking fourth place in the primary and receiving just under eight percent of the votes.
Whitaker Wrote a Scathing Op-Ed on CNN of the Mueller Probe in 2017
In 2017, Matthew “Matt” Whitaker wrote a scathing op-ed about the Mueller probe for CNN, arguing that it had gone too far.
Whitaker wrote, “Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing…It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude 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.”
Whitaker further argued that the Trump Organization’s financial dealings were “plainly not within the scope” of the investigation, and that any continued investigation of POTUS’ financial dealings would merit speculation of the probe being a “witch hunt.”
Whitaker Has Been Described as a ‘Trump Loyalist’ in the Past
In a September, 2018 profile of Whitaker in The New York Times, Whitaker was described as a “Trump loyalist” that is known by some White House source to be Trump’s “eyes and ears” in the Attorney General’s office.
He is reported to have frequented the Oval Office in the last few years and have an “easy chemistry” with Trump, serving as a “balm” in the tenuous relationship between Trump and Sessions that has finally come to a close.
Whitaker has been suggested to be a possible successor to another Trump official in the last few months: Donald McGahn, the White House counsel.
Whitaker Has a Strong Connection With the Evangelical Vote, & Has Assured Voters in the Past That He Would Require Federal Judges to Have a ‘Biblical View of Justice’
At a forum for Republican candidates for Senate in 2004, Whitaker said that he would ask judicial nominees whether they were “people of faith” in the nomination process.
Whitaker said, “While I want to understand…their judicial philosophy, I don’t think that gets us far enough…what I’d like to see is things like their world view, what informs them, how have they lived their lives, are they people of faith, do they have a Biblical view of justice, which I think is very important.”
He continued, “As long as they have that world view, they’ll be a good judge. If they have a secular world view, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned with how they judge.”