Newly-appointed acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker was paid nearly a million dollars by a conservative political group that doesn’t reveal its donors. Financial disclosure forms reveal that he took $904,000, a majority of his income since 2016, from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), Business Insider reports. The disclosure raises questions about potential conflicts of interest for Mr. Whitaker.
The tax-exempt FACT calls itself a nonpartisan government watchdog group, though its positions and actions have mostly been against Democratic leaders and the party. Whitaker worked as executive director of the group for four years and received a vast majority of his income from the group.
Ironically, the group says that its mission is to promote government ethics and transparency, but the group itself does not disclose the identity of its funding sources.
According to disclosures, Whitaker also received $15,000 from CNN, where he acted as a legal commentator and $103,000 from a law firm where he was a partner.
Whitaker was tapped to become acting attorney general on November 7 after President Donald Trump forced Jeff Sessions out of office earlier this month. Since then, the acting attorney general has revised his public disclosure forms multiple times, once as recently as Tuesday.
Democrats have criticized the appointment, saying that Whitaker may halt or hamstring Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, which he now oversees. Whitaker has been openly critical of the investigation.
“There was interference by the Russians into the election, but that was not collusion with the campaign. That’s where the left seems to be combining those two issues,” he said on the Wilkow Majority show.
Senator Charles Schumer has asked the Justice Department to look into communications between the White House and Whitaker to determine if the acting attorney general had access to confidential information in Mueller’s investigation, or whether he shared information with the White House. Schumer has also called for Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation, as Jeff Sessions did.
Trump has claimed not to know about Whitaker’s views on the Russia investigation and says that it did not influence his decision to appoint him. Trump has also said that Whitaker’s stance on the investigation is right.
“What do you do when a person’s right? There is no collusion. He happened to be right. I mean, he said it,” Trump said on Fox News Sunday. “So if he said there is collusion, I’m supposed to be taking somebody that says there is? Because then I wouldn’t take him for two reasons, but the number one reason is the fact that he would have been wrong. If he said that there’s no collusion, he’s right.”
So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2018