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Asha Rangappa @AshaRangappa_
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
STEP DOWN FROM THE LEDGE (FOR NOW) THREAD. (Warning: This might be a SPOOL). OK, here are my thoughts on Whitaker taking over the Mueller investigation and why I think we need to see how things unfold before losing it. To be clear, I do NOT think this is an ideal situation. BUT:
2. First, Whitaker has spoken and written publicly on the Mueller investigation. This clearly creates an appearance of a conflict of interest. He must consult with the ethics people as his former boss did and, if it is warranted, recuse. Period. But assuming he does not:
3. First, as a commentator/pundit, you're expected to have an opinion on a given issue. But as discussed in the context of Strzok, et al., keep in mind that there is a very strong culture in DOJ to not let these views infect decisions. As a former USA, Whitaker knows this culture
4. He is going to be operating in this culture. And he is going to have to articulate his decisions from other people -- career DOJ folks like Christopher Wray and Robert Mueller -- who understand this culture and will see through any attempt to inject politics into the inv.
4. Further, he has to document these decisions. The standard in the Special Counsel regulations for denying a request or recommendation of the Special Counsel is that it is "so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued."
5. Whitaker would have to document and justify his decisions under this standard, knowing (especially with Dems in control of the House) that he would have to testify to them under oath. Flimsy or corrupt justifications would open him up to obstruction of justice.
6. Evenf he wanted to "starve the investigation," the SC regs state that the budget for the coming year must be approved within 90 days of the fiscal year. The fiscal year already started on October 1, and so the budget is in place until Sept '19. The next approval is in June '19
7. Another objection he made publicly is that going into Trump's finances would be crossing a red line. Remember that Mueller farmed out the Cohen case to SDNY. That is likely the thread that leads to the Trump Org, and it is not under Mueller. So that should not be an issue.
8. Important to keep in mind that his comments were made when he, like the rest of us, only knew what was public -- which, in summer '17, wasn't much. Since then, we've had indictments and guilty pleas on Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadopolous, Cohen, and a bunch of Russians.
9. The amount of evidence that has been accumulated in an investigation of this scale cannot be overstated. Which brings it back to how hard it will be for him to justify blocking further steps under the standard outlined in #4, above. Not happening.
10. Also, at a personal level, until now his loyalty as Chief of Staff has been to Sessions -- someone he saw get berated, insulted, pressured, and humiliated by POTUS. He may have seen more cray behind the scenes. I wouldn't count on his loyalty suddenly switching to POTUS.
11. Which brings me to: What would be the payoff? He's not going to be AG, this is temporary. If he has political ambitions he is much better off with Sessions as an ally and being respected in DOJ than hitching his wagon to Trump's (falling) star.
12. In short, the rules, culture, and incentives all point to just keeping what's happening on track, not going off a cliff, which would be professional suicide. I may be proven wrong, I hope I'm not. END
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