Sessions to be replaced by a Fox News commentator who once described in detail how he would kill the Mueller investigation… I think this probably qualifies as a constitutional crisis, right?

[above: A shot from outside the White House tonight by CNN’s Jim Acosta, who had his press credentials stripped this afternoon after standing up to Donald Trump.]

Back in July of 2017, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said there’d be “holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Well, today, Donald Trump not only fired Sessions, but announced that the Attorney General would be temporarily replaced by Matthew Whitaker, a former Fox News contributor who had been serving as Sessions’ Chief of Staff. As for why Trump selected Whitaker, who has previously been referred to by the New York Times as the West Wing’s “eyes and ears” inside the Justice Department, one would assume it has something to do with the fact that he’s been openly hostile toward the Mueller investigation.

Whitaker not only penned an op-ed for CNN titled, “Mueller’s investigation of Trump is going too far,” but he said the following during a subsequent interview on the cable news network. “I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced,” he said, “and (the incoming) Attorney General doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt.” And he’s also gone on the record stating that, by crossing Trump’s “red line,” and looking into the finances of the President and his family members, Mueller has raised “serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt.”

[above: The magnificent beast, and protector of Donald Trump, Matthew Whitaker.]

So, now, this Trump loyalist, who once referred to Mueller’s investigators as a “lynch mob,” will be overseeing the Mueller investigation as acting Attorney General of the United States…. As you’re recall, Sessions wasn’t directly overseeing the investigation, as he’d recused himself from anything Russia-related when it became known that he’d lied about meetings that he’d taken with Russian officials while serving on Trump’s campaign team, but Whitaker, as he’s not recused himself, can claim ownership of the investigation, taking oversight responsibilities away from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Speaking of recusals, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded this afternoon that Whitaker “should recuse himself from (the Russia probe) for the duration of his time as acting Attorney General” given his previous comments “advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation.” And, to their credit, a few Republicans followed suit to some extent. In a statement, Senator Susan Collins said, “I’m concerned Rod Rosenstein will no longer be overseeing the probe. Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference—regardless of who is Attorney General.” And outgoing Senator Jeff Flake, who Trump, earlier today, bragged about driving from office, urged his colleagues to pass S.2644, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, to safeguard the Mueller investigation. “McConnell should bring the bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible.” But, of course, Lindsey Graham’s “holly hell” never came.

[above: This image comes from a post I wrote last July, after the bipartisan Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, only to have Mitch McConnell keep in from being voted on by the full Senate. Read the post, if you get a chance, and share it. It’s important stuff.]

As for why Trump made the move to fire Sessions now, and thereby attempt to end the Mueller investigation, one can only assume that it has to do with the results of yesterday’s midterm election, and the prospect of a Democratic majority being seated in the House on January 3rd. Donald Trump knows that, unless he does something over the next two months, he’s finally going to be held accountable for his numerous crimes. [Trump had wanted to be rid of Sessions since he recused himself from the Russia probe. We know, from reports, that Trump said that Sessions didn’t do enough to “protect him” and “safeguard” him, apparently not understanding that it’s the Attorney General’s job, not to look out for the President, but to ensure that our laws are upheld.]

And, I should add, this wasn’t all that Trump did today. This morning, before once again declaring the press “the enemy of the people,” he began making threats against those Democrats who would be using their newly found subpoena power to investigate him. And Mitch McConnell began warning his colleagues in Congress against what he called “presidential harassment,” apparently forgetting that Congress has a constitutional role to provide presidential oversight.

I have to say that, right now, I’m pretty damned concerned, as it certainly appears as though our President is ratcheting up his obstruction of justice game in hopes of avoiding any legal consequences for his actions. All is not lost, though… at least not yet. Here are three things to consider.

1. I don’t know how much merit the argument has, but I just saw it mentioned that, as Chief of Staff for Attorney General Sessions, Whitaker would not have gone through a Senate confirmation hearing, and therefore cannot legally serve as Attorney General. If true, one would imagine this would slow whatever their plan is down considerably. Of course, it may not be true that he has to be confirmed, as he’s just been named the interim Attorney General, but it’s something to explore.

2. According MSNBC Producer Kyle Griffin, “If Whitaker is now supervising the Mueller investigation, any final report by Mueller will go to Whitaker, who could decline to make it public or transmit it to Congress. But the House Intelligence Committee could subpoena it and anyone involved in preparing it.” So, no matter what happens, the findings of the Mueller report, now that we’re going to have a Democratic House, will become public.

3. There’s a good chance that Mueller knew that this was going to happen eventually and took precautions. Most likely, he likely already has sealed indictments ready to go. The following is from independent journalist Marcy Wheeler.

…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…

But, with all of that having been said, we shouldn’t count on anything good coming of this. And we can’t afford to just sit back and hope for the best. I know it’s a long shot, especially now that the Republicans have even more of a stranglehold over the Senate, but we need to try to force Mitch McConnell to bring the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to a vote. It’s hard to say what would happen if he did, and whether or not Republicans would vote to protect the investigation, but we should at least try to bring it to a vote, if for no other reason that to see where our elected officials stand when it comes to protecting the rule of law.

One last thing… Is anyone else wondering why Donald Trump and the Republicans are no longer talking about the deadly army of invaders heading toward our southern border? I hate to say it, but it’s almost as if the whole thing was just political theater. Who would have thought?

Oh, and it’s probably worth nothing that Whitaker, in addition to having worked for Fox News, served as campaign chair for Sam Clovis’s 2014 bid to become Iowa state treasurer. Clovis, as you’ll recall, is the man who, as Trump’s 2016 campaign co-chairman, brought Russian stooge Carter Page onto the team. Make of that what you will.

update: Audio has been unearthed of Whitaker saying that the Russians did not interfere in our election, contradicting the findings of every U.S. intelligence agency. “The left is trying to sow this theory that essentially Russians interfered with the US election,” he says in the recording. “Which has been proven false.”

update: There will be a protest in Ann Arbor Thursday, November 8, at the federal building. It will begin at 5:00.

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35 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    When the “holy hell” finally comes from Lindsey Graham, one ]wonders what form it’ll take… elaborate ass licking, or just run of the mill whimpering in supplication.

  2. Jean
    Posted November 7, 2018 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    If they defund Mueller, is there any way for the public to raise funds to continue the investigation?

    I’m interested to see what Mueller does next. This will be a chess game.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted November 7, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Nationwide protests tomorrow: https://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response/search/

  4. Mitt Romney by proxy
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    I want to thank Jeff Sessions for his service to our country as Attorney General. Under Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, it is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Whitaker was a board member of Miami Beach-based company World Patent Marketing, which the FTC called a scam and shut down.

    https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/trumps-acting-attorney-general-matthew-whitaker-was-part-of-world-patent-marketing-a-miami-based-invention-scam-company-10893091

  6. John Brown
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Another NRA/Agent Orange stochastic terror attack kills 12. I was half expecting an attack on the polls Tuesday.

    See you at the Federal Building at 5pm.

  7. Lynn Nybell
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I agree, the Constitutional crisis has arrived. MoveOn is calling protests around the country, tonight (Thursday, 11/8), 5 pm. About 900 “No One is Above the Law” marches or gatherings listed on the website. The Ann Arbor event is at the Federal Building at Liberty St. and Fifth at 5 pm. I don’t see a location listed for Ypsi right now.

  8. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    “his numerous crimes”

    Such as?

  9. The Resistance
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Jeff Sessions’ Replacement, Matthew Whitaker, Led Secretive Anti-Dem Group http://j.mp/2PIznlf

  10. Bill Kristol‏‏ by proxy
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    What if the Acting Attorney General refuses to offer Congress assurances on the record and under oath about maintaining the integrity of the Special Counsel investigation? Two GOP Senators (five in the new Congress) could refuse to vote to confirm Trump judges, among other steps.

  11. M
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    What are Trump’s crimes? Let’s start with three.

    1. As of right now, he’s named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the federal crimes admitted to by Michael Cohen.

    http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/08/22/cohen-plea-deal-trump-watergate-prosecutor

    2. Then there’s the tax fraud.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/10/04/trump-may-be-guilty-of-massive-tax-fraud-dont-let-it-fall-down-the-memory-hole/

    3. And let’s not forget the violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

    https://www.npr.org/2018/07/25/632300960/federal-lawsuit-against-president-trumps-business-interests-allowed-to-proceed

    And, of course, then we could talk about obstruction of justice, which we’re seeing more evidence of today.

  12. John Brown
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    By attacking the media Agent Orange is violating the 1st Amendment.

    By lying that he can undo the 14th Amendment birth right citizenship with an EO he’s violating the very premise of Constitutional supremacy in the US Govt.

    By bragging about taking Ruskie and Saudi money he’s blatantly violating the Emoluments clause.

    I took an oath to protect against these kinds of abuses regardless of whether a conviction has been handed down or not. That’s how this shit works, particularly in a case where the constitutional criminal has hijacked the DOJ. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and flagrant abusers cannot be tolerated.

    Every Veteran and civil servant who ever took this oath better get ready to step up to preserve the Constitution regardless of political ideology. And don’t give me some “what about Obummer” bs, this is uncharted levels of abuse.

  13. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    How much do you want to bet those are all jokes, M? We know for a fact there is no obstruction of justice in the Comey firing. How could asking Sessions to leave be obstruction? Tax fraud and emoluments: let’s see. Pretty sure it’s your people who are going down on things like that and worse.

  14. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    “bragging about taking Ruskie and Saudi money”

    Hm?

  15. M
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    You asked a question. I answered it. I’m sorry that y0u did not like the answer.

  16. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    So you should change it to “what I think are numerous crimes without any good reason.”

  17. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    “By attacking the media Agent Orange is violating the 1st Amendment.”

    He attacks the Fake News Media, those people in media who lie. He said when they lie, which they do a lot they are the enemy of the people. That is true and I can’t see any way it could violate the Constitution. You know what the phrase grasping at straws comes from right?

  18. It's Getting Worse
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is recovering in the hospital after fracturing three ribs in a fall at her office at the Supreme Court.

  19. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Are you going to ask that poor old lady to keep rockin’ till she drops? She was so slow to answer on the recent interview she had it was sad to see. No doubt she would have retired for Hillary and that was the plan: she would hold out until Hillary won. Now you need her to stay on until her 90’s to try to stop our President from appointing a third Justice.

  20. Anonymous
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    “Video: Matt Whitaker Defends Donald Trump Jr.’s Meeting With Russians at Trump Tower”

    https://www.newsweek.com/video-matt-whitaker-defends-donald-trump-jrs-meeting-russians-trump-tower-1206896

  21. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Based on evidence, yeah. He is correct. Veselnitskaya is connected to Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. You are the one who should be worried about that. It’s funny to see you people trotting out all your greatest hits but you still don’t know they were all misses.

  22. Natasha Bertrand by proxy
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Question in days/weeks ahead: Will Whitaker be cautious re: Mueller because he wants a full appointment as AG, requiring senate confirmation? Or has he just been installed to put out a fire?

    Recall: Sessions wasn’t even allowed to stay until Friday.

  23. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    There was a lot of smoke coming from Dem/fake media about Russian collusion but there is no fire. That ought to be obvious by now. The real fire is under the ass of corrupt officials and I think it is starting to get hot. Panic time

  24. iRobert
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny. I don’t see Frosted Flakes here defending any of this. I wonder why.

  25. Frosted Flakes
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    There is a lot going on in this post and this thread, iRobert. I am probably a lot less invested in the theories (on both sides) than you think.

    There is a lot we don’t know. Maybe Mark is the first guy to have figured it all out since Glenn Beck figured it all out on his chalk board a few years back. I don’t know.

  26. Jeff Flake by proxy
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    When the Senate convenes next week, @ChrisCoons and I will ask for unanimous consent to bring S.2644, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, to a vote on the Senate floor. After the firing of The AG, it is more important than ever to protect the Special Counsel.

  27. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    How lame can a duck be?

  28. Jean Henry
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    HW– RBG has been measured in tone and cadence for as long as she has been on the bench. She thinks carefully before she speaks. You should try it sometime.

  29. Jean Henry
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    There is an ACLU petition drive asking senators to protect the Mueller probe. If you sign it, it goes directly to your representative.
    https://action.aclu.org/petition/senators-protect-investigation

  30. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    You ought to take your own advice.

    …Getting nervous yet?

  31. Kaitlan Collins by proxy
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    It was not widely known among senior White House staff that Matt Whitaker had commented repeatedly on the special counsel’s investigation in interviews and on TV, even though that’s what drew President Trump to him in the first place.

  32. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Low energy zombie horde

  33. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6PlTV0nCyE

  34. Jean Henry
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Kelly Anne Conway’s husband George Conway’s op-ed stating that Whitaker appointment is Unconstitutional.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/trump-attorney-general-sessions-unconstitutional.html

  35. iRobert
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    When I mention you, Frosted Flakes, it is usually to get you to comment. I’m nostalgic for the days when a few people made some sense on this blog. I’m trying to make Mark’s blog great again. But, I really know it was never that great.

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