Acting AG Meatball Whitaker Signs Own Permission Slip
Sit down, Wonkers, we've got some shocking news. Turns out the Big Dick toilet guy who flogged a scam patent company and spent years cashing wingnut welfare checks at a dark money PAC gives no shits about ethics and won't be recusing from the Mueller investigation. Unable to get a clean bill of health from career ethics officials at DOJ, Matthew Whitaker grabbed his chart and signed himself out. He's the coach, he's putting himself in, he's ready to play Murder the Mueller Investigation TODAY.
As Buzzfeed pointed out, Whitaker came in promising to follow all regular ethics procedures.
The weekend after Whitaker, who had previously served as Sessions' chief of staff, took over as acting attorney general, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec emailed, "Acting AG Whitaker is fully committed to following all processes and procedures of the Department of Justice, including meeting with ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities, matters that may warrant recusals, etc."
And the ethics dorks gave him a clean bill of health, so we're good to go!
Actually, they told him that he was totally kosher vis-à-vis his friendship with Sam Clovis, one of the witnesses, and his prior discussions with the president about WITCH HUNT. But his prior teevee prognostications on the best way to stick a shiv in the Special Counsel's investigation do give the teensiest appearance of bias, so they said he should probably recuse on that basis.
Well, to be clear, we think that's what DOJ ethics officials said. But all we have to go on is the three-page letter Meatball's Assistant AG for the Office of Legislative Affairs sent to Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell detailing a series of verbal briefings Whitaker's posse took with career DOJ ethics officials. Because Meatball neither sought nor received a written ethics opinion, so we just have to take his word for it that Life Is Good, Bruh.
See, sometimes all it takes is a positive attitude and knowing how to ask the question. Like, if you're getting hammered for an appearance of bias, then ask for a whole bunch of different analyses, but not that one. Then send your dudebro buddies to take the briefing, and make sure you're never in the room with the ethics guys. By the time it filters up third- or fourth-hand, those nerds said whatever you wanted them to say. Easy peasy!
The ethics official concluded, however, that if a recommendation were sought, they would advise that the Acting Attorney General should recuse himself from supervision of the Special Counsel because it was their view that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts likely would question the impartiality of the Acting Attorney General. The ODAG [Office of the Deputy Attorney General] also expressed his view that it was a close call and credible arguments could be made either way. The Acting Attorney General's senior staff conveyed these views to the Acting Attorney General.
Eric Holder recused from the campaign finance investigation of John Edwards because he'd been on Obama's transition team that considered Edwards as a possible VP candidate. And Loretta Lynch's fifteen minute chat on the tarmac with Bill Clinton likely saddled us with That Idiot when she handed decision authority off to Comey to avoid the appearance of impropriety. But you do you, Meatball!
Not convinced? Well, Meatball's people made a handy dandy listicle to splain why their boss doesn't have to recuse, including:
- A couple times he said nice things about Robert Mueller;
- One time he told Lindsey Graham that he couldn't off the top of his head think of a rule Mueller had broken;
- The Senate confirmed him in 2004 to be a US Attorney in Iowa, so he's, like, kind of big deal in ethics;
- He hasn't gone on teevee and shit-talked the Russia investigation in 16 months, so it's like the odometer turned over;
- Plus he doesn't want to ruin it for the AGs that come after him by recusing when he totally doesn't have to, because he's just a stand up guy.
Well, that settles it. Clean as a whistle! THIS IS ALL FINE.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.