Friday, February 08, 2019

Recent Stories:

"Matthew Whitaker:  The Ethical Mire of Trump's Top Law Officer," Murray Waas, The New York Review of Books, January 15, 20019.

In August 2017, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who then headed a conservative advocacy group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, more commonly known by its acronym FACT, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the Democratic National Committee and one of its consultants had violated federal election law. Whitaker’s complaint claimed that the DNC and a Ukrainian-American political strategist named Alexandra Chalupa had broken the law when she met with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., during the 2016 presidential election to find out what, if anything, diplomats there knew about Paul Manafort’s work as a political adviser to a former Ukrainian president and political party that wanted their country to cut ties with the West and align Ukraine with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Chalupa, who already knew about Manafort’s decades-long work on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian political interests from her work as a human rights activist, had grave concerns that Manafort had recently been named to be Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

It was routine for Whitaker and FACT to file such complaints with the FEC, the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Government Ethics, and the Justice Department alleging wrongdoing by Democratic Party candidates and officeholders. Ordinarily, little came of these complaints. Indeed, the FEC has given no indication it will investigate Whitaker’s allegations in Chalupa’s case, and no evidence has emerged that either Chalupa or the DNC did anything wrong. Whitaker understood that his complaints would garner media coverage, amplifying his allegations of impropriety, even as the federal agencies with whom he filed his complaints almost invariably turned down his requests to investigate. News organizations that reported on the complaints rarely informed their readers later that no wrongdoing had been uncovered. A Republican political operative involved in some of FACT’s earliest efforts told New York Magazine: “The whole thing just became a chop shop of fake ethics complaints.”

What was distinctive—and odd—about FACT’s complaint in this filing against the DNC and Chalupa was that Whitaker had lifted numerous passages verbatim from a previous complaint filed with the FEC by various mainstream and liberal organizations seeking an investigation into whether the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. had violated federal campaign finance law by attending the infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016. At that meeting, Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign manager Paul Manafort met with intermediaries of the Russian government who had promised to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

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"Schumer Calls for Investigation of Whitaker's Contacts with the White House," Alexander Bolton, The Hill,  January 20, 2018.


Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) is calling for an investigation into private conversations acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker had with the White House about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump's campaign and Russia.
Citing recent media reports, Schumer says there’s a risk that Whitaker, who previously served as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff before taking his job after Election Day, may have tried to interfere in Mueller’s probe..

 The Vox report, written by veteran journalist Murray Waas, revealed that Whitaker, while he was serving as chief of staff to Sessions, was counseling the White House on how the president might pressure Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to direct the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s enemies.

To read more, click here.

"Murray Waas reports Mueller has Evidence that Implicates Trump in an Obstruction of Justice,"  Ian Reifowitz, Daily Kos, July 31, 2018.