After spending a 1.5 hour press conference denying he “colluded” with Russia, Trump just proved he did by forcing Jeff Sessions to resign. He announced Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Matt Whitaker, will be the Acting Attorney General. DOJ has already announced Whitaker will take over oversight of the Mueller investigation. Before he was even hired as CoS, Whitaker pointed to the Red Line Trump’s stenographers at the NYT teed up for him, suggested Mueller had crossed it, and that that represented going too far.
He has also laid out how to kill the Mueller investigation — by defunding it.
I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced, it would recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt.
It’s all going as I predicted it might in this TNR piece last week.
All that said, Mueller was surely expecting just such an eventuality. And the fact that they got Roger Stone attorney Tyler Nixon to testify Friday suggests they were prepping for it, getting the last bit of evidence against Stone in place.
The only question is whether they got the grand jury to approve whatever indictments they were working on. I’d be surprised if Mueller didn’t (unless Rod Rosenstein prevented him from doing so).
If that’s the case, then Whitaker is not going to help Trump get out of his legal troubles. That’s because Chief Judge Beryl Howell, not Whitaker, will make the decision about unsealing anything sealed in this grand jury investigation.
So if Mueller prepared for this very predictable eventuality, then Trump may have just fired a key player in his racist agenda for naught.