Remember how we were told just this morning that Matt Whitaker was told by DOJ ethics experts that he didn't have to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation? It turns out that story was just a tiny little white lie, at least with regard to the DOJ ethics experts. And what he was told about recusal.
In fact, DOJ ethics lawyers told Matt Whitaker specifically that he should recuse himself, and he decided to refuse that advice, instead hand-picking yes-men to tell him he didn't have to recuse.
The Washington Post reports .
According to a Justice Department official, Whitaker never asked Justice Department ethics officials for a recommendation, nor did he receive a formal recommendation from them. He was told, however, that he should recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation "to avoid the appearance of a conflict."
Since Whitaker has written op-eds and appeared on CNN to comment on and criticize the Mueller investigation, this almost seems like a slam-dunk, but instead Whitaker took a different route. He gathered a cadre of four people he trusted and got them to tell him what he wanted to hear: He should not recuse himself.
On that basis alone, Whitaker chose to go ahead and announce that he would take charge of oversight of the investigation, with Rod Rosenstein remaining in charge of the day-to-day matters which might arise.
This is very bad news on a number of levels, because the nominee for Attorney General is no better. Bill Barr, Trump's choice to step into the job, wrote a confidential memo to the Department of Justice blasting the investigation.
The center of Barr's argument is that Mueller's investigation seemed to be “proposing an unprecedented expansion of obstruction laws” that he claims could have “grave consequences” to the executive branch. Barr also admitted to being "in the dark" about many of the facts in the case.
Isn't amazing how Trump found two guys who share his view about Robert Mueller's methodical investigation of his crime syndicate? Matt Whitaker was a guy on wingnut welfare in Iowa just a couple of months ago, and now he's Trump's handmaiden. Great work if you can get it.