When politics comes to the Department of Justice, justice loses

When politics comes to the Department of Justice, justice loses

A year’s worth of presidential tweets foretold former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ fate: Trump ousted him before the dust from the midterms could settle. Rather than follow succession protocol and appoint Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the Acting Attorney General, Trump bypassed Rosenstein to install a relative unknown, former Iowa U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker.

Having spent 24 years at the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor, I didn’t think Trump could reach any lower than Sessions, but it appears Whitaker was hiding in the false-bottom of the president’s barrel of applicants. Whitaker has already been sized-up as the most partisan federal law enforcement chief in recent memory.

Where to begin?

In 2007, while he was the Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney in Iowa, Whitaker prosecuted Matt McCoy, a young Democrat and Iowa’s first openly gay lawmaker who was on the rise in local politics. McCoy got into a financial dispute with a security firm he’d consulted for and demanded money he was owed. Whitaker brought the FBI in and charged McCoy with using his elected office to extort money. At the trial, Whitaker’s case went down in flames and the jury quickly returned a not guilty verdict.

While a prosecutor is ethically bound to make charging decisions only on the facts and law, Whitaker often spoke at Christian Coalition events saying “God’s hand” guided him, according to Iowa state senator McCoy. McCoy recently said his two year fight against Whitaker’s charges ruined him financially and emotionally and he is convinced being a Democrat and an openly gay lawmaker is what motivated Whitaker’s decision to charge him. The Des Moines Register ran a column suggesting the same.

After Whitaker left the U.S. Attorney’s…

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