Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Quits

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) reaches over Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to shake hands with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker during a meeting of Trump's cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House February 12, 2019 in Washington, DC
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker quit his job over the weekend, just weeks after the new attorney general was sworn in, according to NBC News. Whitaker had served as the senior counselor at the Justice Department after Attorney General William Barr was sworn in on February 14.

The former Iowa prosecutor served as chief of staff under ex-Attorney General Jeff Session and had been a strong supporter of the broad use of executive authority. Whitaker served under Sessions until November 2018, when Sessions resigned at the request of Donald Trump for criticism of his handling of the Russia probe. At that point, Whitaker was tapped to act as Attorney General by Trump until a permanent AG could be nominated and confirmed. At the time, many were concerned that Whitaker would hamper the Robert Mueller investigation in some way because he had previously questioned the need for the investigation.

Barr was expected to shake up the department once he took control, and some people wondered if this meant Whitaker’s role might change or end.

It’s not clear what caused Whitaker to abruptly leave his role on Saturday, nor is it known if he has a new job lined up, though sources say that he plans to stick around Washington, D.C.

Whitaker has been under scrutiny for his communications with Trump relating to the Mueller investigation. Last month, he appeared in front of the House Judiciary Committee, where he claimed that he was not asked to, nor did he, interfere in Mueller’s Russia investigation at the request of the president.

“At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,” Whitaker said.

However, he refused to directly address several questions from investigators, angering Democrats on the committee, who called his testimony “unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradicted by other evidence.”

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Democrats later decided to evaluate Whitaker’s testimony to determine whether or not he lied during his testimony.

Shortly after, Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, said that Whitaker would return to clarify some of the statements he made during the February 8 inquiry.

“I want to thank Mr. Whitaker for volunteering to meet with us to clarify his @HouseJudiciary testimony,” Nadler tweeted.

Nadler didn’t say what would be clarified, but the most intense questioning during the hearing focused on hush money paid during Trump’s presidential campaign to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.