News & Politics

'Disturbed': Hundred of former Justice Department officials sign letter explaining why AG Matthew Whitaker's appointment is so troubling

The appointment remains a black eye on the department.

Photo Credit: Justice Department

The government watchdog group Protect Democracy is reporting that more than 400 former attorneys or officials for the U.S. Justice Department have signed a statement saying that they are “disturbed” by the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

After the 2018 midterms, President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and announced that Whitaker was taking over the position for the time being. Whitaker has been a vocal critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The letter stated, “Because of our respect for our oaths of office and our personal experiences carrying out the Department’s mission, we are disturbed by the President’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker to serve as Acting Attorney General.... Mr. Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate, his qualifications to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer have not been publicly reviewed, and he has not been fully vetted for any potential conflicts of interest.”

The letter goes on to say, “While we know that there are thousands of dedicated public servants now at the Department who will do their utmost to protect its mission and reputation, it falls to all of us to ensure that the Department’s role in maintaining the rule of law is not undermined or tainted.”

Before Trump chose Whitaker, he had been serving as Sessions’ chief of staff. Trump has yet to announce a permanent nominee for attorney general.

One of the attorneys who signed the letter was Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor who has had much to say about Russiagate during her appearances on MSNBC and CNN.

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.