The man who is most likely to be tapped to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is a body-building former football player who reportedly has the president’s vote of confidence.
The New York Times reported that on Monday morning, when it appeared Rosenstein was headed out the door at the Justice Department, President Donald Trump called Matt Whitaker, the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
According to the report, Trump did not offer Whitaker the deputy AG position at the time — but did want to reiterate that he has “faith” in him.
The Times noted that Whitaker, a Des Moines native who played on the University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes football team, has been called the White House’s “eyes and ears” inside the DOJ.
During an unsuccessful Senate bid in 2014, the chief of staff told the audience at a GOP candidates’ forum that if he were elected, he’d question judicial nominees on whether or not they’re “people of faith” who have a “Biblical view of justice,” the report noted.
In August 2017 — two months prior to joining the DOJ — Whitaker penned a column in CNN where he said the president’s finances should be off limits in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion.
In that column, the soon-to-be chief of staff mentioned Rosenstein.
“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s letter appointing special counsel Robert Mueller does not give Mueller broad, far-reaching powers in this investigation,” Whitaker wrote. “He is only authorized to investigate matters that involved any potential links to and coordination between two entities — the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”
The Times noted that Whitaker was appointed after being recommended by Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal think tank that also promoted Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.