Having assumed the role of acting attorney general in November, Matthew Whitaker’s time at the Justice Department has drawn to a close.
No longer at DOJ
The Hill reported that Whitaker’s final day with the agency was Saturday. However, it was unclear if Whitaker would be stepping away from the administration altogether, or moving to another position within President Donald Trump’s team of officials.
Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general in November following the post-election resignation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose tenure at the head of the Justice Department had been controversial and stymied due to his recusal on all matters related to Russia and the 2016 campaign.
Previously serving as Sessions’ chief of staff, Whitaker was hand-picked by Trump to temporarily fill the void left by Sessions until a permanent replacement could be nominated and confirmed.
William Barr has now settled into the role of attorney general following his confirmation by the Senate three weeks ago, relieving Whitaker of responsibility over the department on February 14. Since then, Whitaker has served as a counselor within the associate attorney general’s office.
Whitaker’s brief time as acting attorney general was marked by controversy of its own, most notably due to ferocious opposition to his appointment on the part of Democrats.
At the heart of that Democrat opposition to Whitaker were deep concerns that he would interfere with or sabotage the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, a probe of which Whitaker had been highly and publicly critical prior to assuming the AG role.
Democrat animosity toward Whitaker was highlighted during a contentious hearing in front of Congress when he was repeatedly grilled by lawmakers over Mueller, the special counsel investigation and a host of other issues.
Notably, the House Judiciary Committee has asked Whitaker to return in order to provide addtional testimony and to clarify comments he made during that earlier hearing.
Likely staying in Washington D.C.
The opposition to Whitaker also found voice in the predominately liberal media, with multiple outlets disseminating unauthorized leaks about him and putting forward loaded questions and unverified allegations against him, all for the purpose of insinuating that Whitaker was more loyal to the president than to the DOJ.
As was noted by The Hill, it is unclear exactly where Whitaker will go or what he will do now that he has left the Justice Department. However, NBC News has cited unnamed “friends” of Whitaker who said that he intends to remain in the nation’s capital because of the “many opportunities” that exist there.
It remains to be seen just where Whitaker will land now that he has left the Justice Department, but odds are we will all find out in due course.