Matthew Whitaker appears to have said one thing under oath in public and another behind closed doors, and that sounds an awful lot like perjury.
Things don't look good for Matthew Whitaker. Once he was the Acting Attorney General of the United States, but now he is merely a civilian who appears to have perjured himself before the House of Representatives.
In early February, Whitaker testified before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in a public session. It didn't go well. He was evasive about things like the child separation policy and tried to run out the clock on answering the chair of the committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), when he didn't like the question.
All that evasiveness got him was a letter from Nadler telling him his answers were "unsatisfactory, incomplete, or contradicted by other evidence" and that he had to come back to the House to "clarify" his testimony, this time behind closed doors.
Whitaker did so yesterday, and that didn't go well either. Speaking with reporters, Rep. Nadler said that, unlike during his public testimony, Whitaker didn't deny that Trump reached out to him to talk about Michael Cohen's case. Contradicting or seriously diverging from his sworn testimony is a bit of a problem for Whitaker. It's also a bit of a problem for Trump, as it goes towards whether Trump was trying to obstruct the Cohen matter.
That wasn't all.
Whitaker also told the committee that he had talked about Cohen's case with DOJ staff and said some of the charges were "specious" since John Edwards wasn't convicted on similar charges.
Nadler also said that Whitaker didn't deny talking with U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman about his recusal from the Cohen case. Berman had recused himself from the Cohen matter prior to the FBI's raid on Cohen's offices, a recusal that was probably deeply troubling to Trump, who had hand-picked Berman. Relatedly, Whitaker didn't deny he was “directly involved in conversations about whether to fire one or more U.S. attorneys.”
Republicans who were also in the room insist that Nadler is mischaracterizing the conversations, but Whitaker himself has been notably silent. Perhaps he's reached the end of his ability to cover for Trump. Or maybe, as Elise Jordan of TIME speculated, he's just terrified:
At this stage, we should expect that plenty of Trump officials are lying to us, but it is still just jaw-dropping to me that the acting attorney general of the united states blatantly lied to Congress and was concerned enough about going to prison that he came back a week later to clean up.
Whitaker isn't the only one who should be scared. His testimony directly implicates Trump in yet another obstruction attempt. The guy just can't help himself.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.