Whitaker Refusal to Recuse & Pattern of Trump A.G. Choices Emphasize Need for Congressional Oversight

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Americans expect and deserve a Department of Justice (DOJ) that is above reproach. But President Trump continues to select Attorneys General who agree with his skewed worldview that he is above the law. This hammers home the need for Congress to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s decision to ignore the recommendations from DOJ’s ethics staff that he recuse himself from the Russia investigation is outrageous but unfortunately just the latest example of the President’s insistence on choosing candidates who have publicly expressed the belief that the President is above the law. There are indications that Attorney General nominee William Barr shares the same dangerous views. Presidential fealty should be avoided in the selection of an Attorney General but it has become a prerequisite for a Trump White House embroiled in a shocking number of investigations.

To date, Republican majorities in the House and Senate have refused to provide any real check on the continuing efforts by the White house to obstruct the Russia investigation. That must change. It is long past time to put country before party. Congress must pass legislation to safeguard the Russia probe and the confirmation hearings for the next Attorney General must demand real answers about the nominee’s opinions about the extent of presidential powers.

Political expediency can no longer be allowed to carry the day on Capitol Hill. No gutting of government regulations, nor any number of judicial confirmations is worth ignoring their constitutional charge to provide oversight of the presidency. Congress must do its sworn duty. History will not be kind to those who stand by while the Constitution is trampled.