Donald Trump’s illegitimately appointed Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was front and center today in front of the TV cameras. The guy’s rudeness, arrogance, and near total lack of intellect made for must-see, if certainly wince-inducing, television. But for all of the absurdity on display, there was really only one big takeaway.
No, it’s not that Matt Whitaker is a buffoon, though that’s certainly true. It’s not even that Whitaker is a jerk, though that was obvious enough. It’s that the House Democrats made an example out of him, just six days before someone else is set to take over his job. William Barr is about to become Attorney General, and if he wants to know what his fate will be a week or a month from now, all he had to do was to tune in today.
Matt Whitaker was forced to say today whether he’s illegally discussed the Trump-Russia investigation with Donald Trump. He tried repeatedly to worm out of answering, but in the end he had to, so he said he hasn’t discussed it with Trump. If this is a provable lie, then Whitaker will go down for perjury.
So as William Barr sat there watching the hearings today, he surely realized a few things. First, before long, he’ll be hauled in front of the television cameras and get hit with these same questions. If he wants to avoid committing perjury, he’ll have to avoid committing obstruction crimes, no matter how much Trump pressures him to do so.
House Democrats had their first opportunity to show Donald Trump’s other henchmen and would-be henchmen that there will be a steep price to pay going forward, and they made an example out of Matt Whitaker today for all to see. The real victory for the Democrats today is that they’ve made clear to everyone involved that the era of a House Republican majority covering for Trump’s crimes is over. That should have a chilling effect on the people doing Trump’s bidding.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report