When Donald Trump illegally appointed clueless two-bit scam artist Matthew Whitaker as his Acting Attorney General last month, it wasn’t clear if Trump honestly thought Whitaker might somehow be able to outwit Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or if this was all for some kind of White House blooper reel. In any case, it looks like the Whitaker experiment is now effectively over.
Donald Trump let it be known today that he intends to nominate William Barr as his new permanent Attorney General. Barr was previously President George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General. Republicans love this guy, so the GOP-controlled Senate will almost surely rubber stamp him in January. Barr used to work with Robert Mueller, so this is of no real help to Trump, and it appears the Republicans are simply having Trump pick someone who will do their partisan bidding for the next two years, whether Trump is still in the picture or not.
Trump hasn’t made any overtures about trying to appoint William Barr as Acting Attorney General for the rest of the lame duck session, so it’s possible that Matthew Whitaker will get to keep that position for the next month. But by announcing Barr now, Trump is neutering what little power or influence Whitaker might have had at the DOJ, meaning that Whitaker won’t be able to do much more than play out the string.
Then again, in the month since Donald Trump handed Matt Whitaker the job, Robert Mueller has cut a cooperation deal with Michael Cohen to expose Trump’s motive and role in the Trump-Russia election scandal, and handed Michael Flynn a free pass in exchange for giving up a boatload of redacted incriminating information about everyone in Trump’s orbit. Matt Whitaker has clearly failed to slow Robert Mueller down. Even Trump can apparently see it, as he’s already announcing his post-Whitaker plans.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report