Published November 15, 2018 / Updated August 7, 2020
Mueller, Whitaker, & McConnell
If you miss, you had better miss very well
It looks as if the metronome of indictments, arrests, and plea deals coming out of the Special Counsel’s office is about to start back up.
Mueller’s office went radio silent during the run-up to the midterm elections out of a respect for democracy and the institution of the election. But with the midterms in the rearview it’s once again Mueller time.
Of course, for President Trump, the midterms are also over. That means that the White House need no longer fear a backlash at the polls until 2020. The gloves, as they say, are off.
Which is why Jeff Sessions is unemployed and why the White House tapped Matthew Whitaker to serve as “acting attorney general” despite the fact that it is very probably illegal for him to do so for a number of reasons.
Whitaker was appointed to end the Mueller investigation. The only way that could be more obvious is if, on his first day, the Attorney General’s office were bare save for an 8x10 photo of Robert Mueller and a loaded handgun.
And he’s well suited for the job. Whitaker’s political history is one of unrelenting failure and inexplicable political cronyism. Indeed, prior to his almost-certainly-illegal elevation to Acting Attorney General, it is not an overstatement to suggest that Matthew Whitaker has literally never succeeded at any aspect of public, political life.
His primary qualification since 2002 has been that he is a bootlicker and a grifter, and that’s just the sort of person the President needs to be his hatchet man. But Whitaker isn’t just willing to do what Trump wants; he’s eager to do it.
Here he is…
In The Hill on May 10, 2017
On some DC talk radio station in June, 2017 insisting that “there is no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had.”
On CNN defending the Trump Tower meeting in July of 2017
And on Twitter, calling the the Mueller investigation a “lynch mob” and opining that legislation protecting it would be “a mistake.”
The Man Who Killed The Senate
But of course no discussion of gross ethical violations would be complete without drawing in Mitch McConnell. McConnell this week blocked a bipartisan effort to ask the Senate to vote on a protection bill for Robert Mueller’s investigation. Objecting to the vote, McConnell argued, as he did in April, that there exists no clear threat to the investigation.
The investigation that Matthew Whitaker is now officially in charge of at the personal behest of the President. That investigation.
What can we do?
McConnell may run the Senate, but there are other levers of power in Washington. Jeff Flake, whose momentary flash of courage delayed the Kavanaugh confirmation for a few days, has vowed to vote with Democrats and block all judicial nominees through the Senate Judiciary Committee until the bill protecting Mueller gets a vote. Flake is out in January and McConnell can try to go around him by bringing judicial nominees directly to the floor, but the move would be risky and unpopular, especially if there’s public pressure to respect the Judiciary Committee.
There is also a budget which the Congress must pass during the lame duck session or risk a government shutdown. Democrats in the House can try to append a rider protecting Mueller to the budget. This is still a House run by Paul Ryan and with a Republican majority, but protecting Mueller is popular and McConnell is running out of friends in the lower chamber.
Tell Congress What You Think
Mueller’s investigation is in a critical phase; if it survives the next two months, it will probably survive the next two years. That means the window for a corrupt White House to move on it is closing fast. You can tell your Senators and Representatives to protect the investigation by supporting Flake and the Judiciary Committee or by supporting the budget rider to protect Mueller. To write to them, send the word Resist to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text RESIST to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to make a difference.