President Trump has forced out his attorney general and replaced him with a loyalist who will now oversee special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. Speculation is rampant: Will the new acting attorney general fire Mueller? Constrain his investigation? Block Mueller’s findings from going public?
We don’t know whether Matthew Whitaker, Trump’s replacement for Jeff Sessions, will go through with these things. But here’s something we can conclude right now: Trump surely picked Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, expressly to put him in the position of being able to do any and all of them.
Unlike Sessions, who recused himself from the probe, Whitaker will oversee it, whereas before, that had fallen to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. Whitaker can theoretically fire Mueller by invoking some rationale that fulfills the relevant regulations’ requirement for “cause,” or he can revoke those regulations. Or he can severely limit the scope of the investigation, or starve it of funds.
Ask yourself: What would this look like if Republicans had held the House? We would be concluding that Trump is taking steps to close down or limit the probe, or keep its findings covered up, in the full knowledge that congressional Republicans will let him get away with it. Which is why it’s a good thing that Democrats did capture the House