New acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker has an exhaustive history of publicly criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which he now oversees, saying in 2017 that it would create a “conditional crisis” if the probe reared into President Donald Trump’s finances or those close to him.
“If [Mueller] is going to look at financial information and potential financial crimes, unrelated to the 2016 election and the alleged Russian coordination, I think that would be — not only did Trump call that a red line, I think that would be completely inconsistent with our system on justice,” Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor and two-time failed political candidate, said in an interview on Chicago morning radio show “Morning Answer” in August 2017.
“If it just turns into a fishing expedition where they are going to look at everybody and try to just do whatever they can to start charging people with crimes, that’s a legitimate constitutional crisis and inconsistent with the 4th Amendment and the very basic nature that we are free people,” the acting attorney general added.
The newly appointed AG, who reportedly has no plans to recuse himself from the Russia investigation during his time serving at the Justice Department, also expressed concern over what Mueller looking into Trump could mean for the future.
“Are we entering a new culture where every time we have a new president and the establishment doesn’t like him that we just investigate until we can find crimes for those surrounding him,” Whitaker said.
At one point in the interview, a radio host asked Whitaker if Mueller is “in search of a crime or is he trying to prove a crime? Or a little bit of both?”
“That’s a great question. And it’s very hard to tell,” the acting AG replied, arguing that Mueller’s team continues to leak information on the investigation to make them seem “more productive and on top of things.”
Whitaker’s comments on “Morning Answer” echo a CNN Op-Ed from December 2017 where he argued that the Mueller investigation was coming “dangerously close to crossing” a red line after reports suggested that the probe was looking into Trump’s finances.
The piece also makes the case that Mueller does not have “far-reaching powers in this investigation.”
Other comments from Whitaker’s past have made headlines since taking over for Jeff Sessions, including saying back in August 2017 that “there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign,” as reported by The Daily Beast.
CNN’s K-File also found comments by Whitaker from 2017 calling Mueller’s appointment “ridiculous” and “a little fishy.”