Meet Trump's New Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker

Janice Rogers Brown

Janice Rogers Brown

Whitaker, a former USA attorney from Iowa who twice ran unsuccessfully for statewide office and founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists, once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe.

Trump fired Sessions on Wednesday after months of back and forth between the two.

Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, the Washington Post reported.

Since stepping into his new role on Wednesday, Whitaker has faced questions - principally from Democrats - about whether he should recuse from the Russian Federation investigation, given that he has written opinion pieces in the past about the investigation, and is a friend and political ally of a witness.

But House Democrats have made clear that they plan to use the subpoena power that will come with their majority to reopen the lower chamber's own investigation into the Russian Federation matter.

The Kremlin has called the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election a "headache" for US authorities but has declined to comment on the departure of Jeff Sessions as attorney general. One was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, making it eligible for a full Senate vote.

On Wednesday, Goodlatte issued a statement praising Sessions' service as attorney general and wishing Whitaker well in his new role.

As attorney general, and earlier as White House counsel, he faced criticism for drafting controversial rules for military war tribunals, seeking to limit the legal rights of detainees at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference-regardless of who is AG".

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That could lead to a constitutional showdown over presidential powers or even an impeachment fight in the House of Representatives, newly under the control of hostile Democrats after Tuesday's midterm elections.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced by tweet that 49-year-old Matthew Whitaker, Sessions's former chief of staff, would take over as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is found at a later date.

While Whitaker is now Mueller's ultimate supervisor, it was not immediately clear whether that meant Rosenstein would step aside.

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway suggested on Thursday morning that the question of whether Whitaker will recuse himself is absurd.

"I just don't understand it because why invite this kind of criticism or scrutiny which you knew it was going to come because of the comments he's made earlier", said Gonzales.

Schumer says he finds the timing of Sessions' departure "very suspect".

"These are occurring as a way of expressing our concern about the actions President Trump took yesterday", said Ron Roe, an organizer.

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