Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Saturday criticized the appointment of Jeff Sessions’ former chief of staff Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
Gonzales, who is perhaps best known for his work arguing for the legality of former President George W. Bush’s torture program and for the politicized firings of several U.S. Attorneys, told NPR’s “All Things Considered” that “I’ve got some issues with this, quite frankly.”
“The notion that the chief of staff, who is not Senate-confirmed, would have more experience, more wisdom and better judgement than someone like the deputy attorney general [Rod Rosenstein] or even the solicitor general [Noel Francisco], people in the line of presidential succession within the Department of Justice, to me– It confounds me,” Gonzales said.
“I have to question why that decision was made,” he added.
NPR’s Michel Martin asked the former attorney general whether his concerns with Whitaker’s appointment were based on “optics, or is there, in fact, a legitimate question about his authority to hold this position?”
Prominent conservatives and other right-wingers have objected to Whitaker’s appointment on constitutional grounds, especially because the President chose him over Senate-confirmed DOJ officials like Rosenstein to take over for ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an acting capacity.
“I think it’s both,” Gonzales said. “I think there is a question.”
He added: “Even if it is lawful, I question whether or not putting Mr. Whitaker in this position at this particular time was a wise move, particularly when you add on top of everything else his public comments about the Mueller investigation.”