Fri Nov 30, 2018, 05:52 PM

Acting USAG Whittiker reminisces on Trump

Trump’s acting attorney general once referred to the president’s behavior as ‘a little dangerous’ and ‘a little outlandish’

By Aaron C. Davis and Ilana Marcus
November 30 at 2:10 PM

A review of hundreds of public comments by acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker shows that while he has primarily functioned as a defender of President Trump, he has also criticized the president on numerous occasions, sometimes harshly, while working as a commentator on radio and television.

Whitaker has repeatedly suggested that Trump plays with the truth. He has said Trump should release his tax returns and was “self-serving” in the way he fired FBI director James B. Comey. Whitaker said during the run-up to the 2016 election that neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton were very good options for the presidency. “I mean, both these candidates are unlikable,” he said.

The critique of the president by Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney who rose to prominence over the past four years as the head of a conservative nonprofit group, has often come in unguarded moments, and sometimes late into on-air discussions. “Sometimes I wonder if anybody has the president’s ear or if he just kind of watches news accounts and responds to, which is a little dangerous,” Whitaker said in June 2017 on a radio show.

As a media commentator, Whitaker criticized the special counsel’s investigation. He also lauded Trump for putting the country on the right path and praised his media savvy and penchant for keeping his opponents off-balance. ... But a Washington Post review of his body of candid and disapproving comments stand out in an administration that demands strict loyalty, with televised Cabinet meetings in which aides take turn glorifying Trump. Whitaker’s assessments were more cutting than anything uttered publicly by former attorney general Jeff Sessions, whom Trump chased from the job after repeatedly criticizing Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the special counsel investigation.

“I don’t know if it was to throw everybody off the trail or what. But it was a little outlandish, to say the least,” Whitaker said in a radio interview after Trump accused former president Barack Obama of ordering surveillance on his presidential campaign. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted on March 4, 2017.

Two days later, when asked to explain Trump’s claim, Whitaker struggled in an interview aired on WLS-AM 890, a conservative-talk-radio station in Chicago.

“President Trump will just sort of say these things that puts Comey and others in the law enforcement community and the intelligence community on their heels kind of trying to respond to these, you know, claims whether they’re true or not,” Whitaker said.

Speaking on the same topic for the radio audience of WIOD 610 am in Miami later that day, Whitaker went further, suggesting Trump may have fabricated the idea: “There’s only one of two answers. One is that the new president discovered this information as he assume the position of president or he’s completely made it up whole cloth,” he said.

The White House days later clarified that it believed Trump had been caught up in routine surveillance of foreign officials who may have had conversations with candidate. The Justice Department over the next several months, however, repeatedly rebutted the notion that the Obama White House had ordered surveillance of the Trump campaign.

Whitaker’s criticism of Trump in the White House stretches back to the president’s first week in office. As head of FACT, Whitaker at the time questioned Trump’s sincerity in floating the idea of resurrecting waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation tactics.

“That’s kind of his nature as president: I think he’s going to say bold statements and then see how the people react,” Whitaker said on Chicago’s “Big” John Howell show on WLS-AM 890. “He’s very adept at adjusting if necessary and suggesting that what he said yesterday is not what he believes today.”

Whitaker was perhaps most critical five months later when, as Trump fired Comey, the president asserted that the FBI director told him he was not under investigation.

In four radio interviews over two days, Whitaker repeatedly blasted Trump’s public letter to Comey as “self-serving.”

“That whole sentence about, you know, ‘We’ve talked three times and you’ve told me I’m not under investigation,’ I mean for a president to include that in a letter of termination is — just I’ve never seen anything like that,” Whitaker told WHO Radio 1040 in Des Moines. “It’s so self-serving.”

A day later, Whitaker was still going on the Steve Gruber Show on 1240 WJIM in Lansing: “It was gratuitous . . . it can’t be confirmed and so, I think in the classic, you know, President Trump fashion, it becomes a fact. He’s very effective at these kind of — you know, these statements that either can’t be verified or you know sort of fly under any way of confirmation,” Whitaker said. “History is going to continue to move forward and I guess, you know, reveal whether these statements are true or false.”

More often, Whitaker defended Trump, especially in appearances on television. But a little over a month before he was named as Sessions’s chief of staff, in September 2017, Whitaker critiqued the president’s response to the clash of white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville. He described Trump’s comments following the incident as “woefully inadequate” and said that the president could have done more to condemn racist views.

“If white supremacists and alt-right groups are part of his base, he needs to reject that,” he said in a CNN panel discussion.

Eighteen months before he took charge of Justice, Whitaker mused about what a hot seat that could be.

“You have a president that you know is sometimes a little unpredictable to be generous, and it’s — I don’t know if Jeff Sessions feels comfortable where he’s sitting right now, and he may wish he was back in the Senate.”

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Reply Acting USAG Whittiker reminisces on Trump (Original post)
bobsal Nov 2018 OP
Tolk Nov 2018 #1
imwithfred Nov 2018 #2
bobsal Dec 2018 #4
Charlie Mike Dec 2018 #6
Charlie Mike Nov 2018 #3
bobsal Dec 2018 #5

Response to bobsal (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2018, 06:31 PM

1. What a badly written editorial

Sort of goes against the left wing talking points, don't you think?
Do you have any thoughts of your own on this?

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Response to bobsal (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2018, 07:24 PM

2. Oh now, bob, sir,

in this season of joy and goodwill, surely you can find something kind to say about the president.

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Response to imwithfred (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 12:26 AM

4. Sure can! The President isn't going to be around much longer, it gives me such feelings of joy ...


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Response to bobsal (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 06:06 AM

6. And Hillary by a landslide!

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Response to bobsal (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2018, 07:27 PM

3. So, what you're saying is: Trump should fire Whitaker and

appoint a replacement unreservedly in his corner.

Good idea!

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Response to Charlie Mike (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 12:27 AM

5. Not at all, I'm saying it takes one to know one and they both need to leave office.

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