Ryan Goodman, a professor at the New York University School of Law, has written a scathing analysis of President Donald Trump's decision to tap loyalist Matt Whitaker to be his acting attorney general.
Writing at Just Security, Goodman says that Whitaker's role as an unofficial Trump campaign adviser, as well as his regular recent contacts with grand jury witness Sam Clovis, are a "clear red line" that should force him to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"Whitaker was not advising just some random, low-level official," Goodman says of Whitaker's role in advising Clovis while he worked for Trump's campaign. "Alongside Paul Manafort, Clovis served as co-chairman of the Trump Campaign. Clovis also assembled the campaign’s national security group headed by Jeff Sessions, and reportedly was involved in bringing on board George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. Depending on what information Clovis shared with Whitaker in using him as a sounding board, Whitaker might be best described as a campaign insider."
Goodman then details how Clovis was a key figure who encouraged Papadopoulos to make contacts with Russian officials who were offering potential assistance to the Trump campaign.
What's more, Goodman writes that "Clovis reportedly advised Whitaker on how to get a job in the Trump administration, a strategy that involved Whitaker going on national television and disputing allegations of collusion and the legitimacy of the Russia probe."
Given all these conflicts of interest, Goodman concludes, Whitaker "should certainly not oversee the Russia probe."