Yeomans Work: Trump’s Whitaker Gambit Backfires

Press Release

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Zack Ford
(202) 464-7370

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 15, 2018 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, AFJ Senior Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans writes that President Trump’s transparent attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation, by appointing outspoken Mueller critic Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, has quickly backfired. And he notes that Whitaker’s overt bias and lack of credentials are largely to blame.

Says Yeomans: “The combination of constitutional uncertainty surrounding Whitaker’s appointment and his palpable unfitness to serve as attorney general highlights the obvious fact that Trump selected him to curtail the Mueller investigation. It also makes it impossible for him to do so. He is in a severely weakened, closely watched position, in which his survival depends on playing it safe. And he knows a Democratic House majority will intensify the scrutiny of his every step. Limitations on Mueller that Rod Rosenstein might have imposed successfully will be viewed as attacks on Mueller because of Whitaker’s taint.”

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding Whitaker’s appointment should force Congress to revisit the Vacancies Reform Act that governs such appointments. It also seems to have encouraged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to embrace legislation protecting Mueller’s job. Yeomans wryly concludes, “Once again, we should be grateful that Trump’s authoritarian instincts are frustrated by his incompetence.”

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at or 202-464-7367.