It was revealed Wednesday that former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker conveniently forgot many of his conversations with President Donald Trump during a Congressional hearing.
During Anderson Cooper’s CNN show, legal analyst Jeff Toobin said that the conversations Whitaker had with Trump over Michael Cohen couldn’t be more critical.
“Remember, Richard Nixon was forced out of office because on June 23, 1972, the so-called smoking gun tape, he was caught using the CIA to tell the FBI to stop investigating Watergate,” Toobin continued. “So, the issue of the president controlling the Department of Justice regarding investigations of himself is both historically and legally very important.”
Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal called it devastating whether Trump was venting or if he did act on his frustrations about Cohen.
“It’s still devastating for the president both criminally and politically,” he said. “So, it would be one thing, Anderson, if the president were having that conversation with you and going in and criticizing the Southern District [of New York] investigation and the like. But here he’s doing it to his hand-picked lackey, this guy Matthew Whitaker who is the most unqualified person to ever serve as attorney general in the history of the United States, who was put in there for one reason, one qualification, is he’s gone on your network and dissed the Mueller probe, and so it is pretty obvious what is going on at this point.”
He explained that it wasn’t about venting because the criminal intent could have been met. “It just requires an attempt to try and do something that is illegal,” he explained.
“I do think there is a problem because Whitaker previously didn’t just previously testify in Congress that the president didn’t lash out he also testified in response to a question from Rep. [David] Cicilline was — ‘Did the White House reach out to you in some way to express dissatisfaction?’ Answer: ‘No.’ So Whitaker didn’t have any problem remembering that a month ago, more than a month ago. But now, all of a sudden, he’s got these memory deficits.”
Whitaker left the Justice Department several weeks ago, but he’s still facing hearings and investigations from his short time at the top.