Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who drew gasps at his contentious House Judiciary hearing Friday, will need a new job upon the expected confirmation of Trump attorney general nominee Bill Barr next week.
According to a Saturday report in The Atlantic, the “aloofness and disdain for tradition” that Whitaker displayed at his testimony Friday was part of his audition to become Trump’s next chief of staff.
Whitaker, who signaled that he was prepared to cite executive privilege, dodged key questions from Democrats Friday as they intended to grill him on the independence of the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller from White House interference and improper political considerations.
Unlike Barr’s acknowledgement of the Mueller probe’s legitimacy during his confirmation hearing, Whitaker took a more combative approach to the subject as he told Democrats that it would be “inappropriate” for him to talk about the ongoing investigation – contradicting his speculation earlier this month that the probe would be wrapping up soon.
Whitaker also denied reports that Trump “lashed out” on him over the probe into Michael Cohen and entertained the right-wing conspiracy theory that CNN was made aware that the FBI was about to arrest Roger Stone during his testimony.
The Atlantic notes that despite his previous tenure as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, speculation over Whitaker’s relationship to Trump ramped up when “Sessions’ natural replacement” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was not appointed.