Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is owed an apology by an awful lot of people in the media, both on the left and the right.
Whitaker was instantly mocked and dismissed in many quarters after he stated at a recent press conference that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was almost completed and that he was looking forward to receiving his final report soon.
Fake news outlets that spent the last two years building the Mueller hype were caught by surprise by Whitaker’s announcement. In recent months, they had been selling the narrative that Mueller is not only far from being finished, but that he has a whole new bunch of indictments waiting to be unsealed, supposedly targeting people such as Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner.
Within minutes of the press conference ending, the uproar began as it became clear that many journalists covering the Mueller team simply refused to believe what Whitaker had said.
This is what happens when people who are heavily invested in a particular narrative are confronted by new evidence. The person presenting the new evidence instantly becomes a problem to be managed.
Vanity Fair took the position that Whitaker “appeared confused” and had little idea what he was talking about.
“Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general and a critic of the Russia probe, raised eyebrows Monday afternoon when he told reporters that Robert Mueller’s work is almost complete, and appeared to press the special counsel to bring the investigation to an even quicker end. ‘Right now, the investigation is—I think—close to being completed,’” he said. “’I hope we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible.’”
“The public remarks on the inquiry into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election were Whitaker’s first since Donald Trump tapped him to oversee it in November, and they were met with deserved skepticism. An opponent of the probe who had previously encouraged the administration to rein Mueller in, Whitaker’s motives in making such a statement were unclear. Whitaker told the media he had been ‘fully briefed’ on the matter, yet the extent to which Trump’s acting attorney general is up to date on Mueller’s timeline is foggy. The uncertainty surrounding Whitaker’s comments raised alarm bells for prominent observers of the probe, including Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general under Barack Obama, who cautioned that ‘everything [Whitaker] says should be doubted,’ and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who blasted the acting attorney general as ‘utterly unqualified.’
“’I have seen actual deer in actual headlights who express themselves more clearly than the attorney general of the United States did there,’” Toobin said on CNN. “’He cannot express himself about a matter of extreme importance—the Mueller investigation—and he has raised all these questions about decisions he’s going to review. What is he even talking about?’”
Now—just over three weeks after Whitaker’s statements—several media outlets report that sources have told them that Mueller’s investigation is set to wrap up as early as next week. The Hill, CNN, and The Washington Post all hear the same thing.
It certainly appears that Toobin owes Whitaker an apology. And not just Toobin. Those desperate to explain away what Whitaker said includes many on the left and the right—pundits and reporters who’ve been selling panic and doom narratives about how Mueller and the “Deep State” have Trump boxed into a corner, where the clueless and impotent president either can’t or won’t take any real action to save himself.
Now the fake news media is scrambling to spin this new information to try to save the fake news they’ve been peddling for so long. Some are trying harder than others. Vanity Fair gets an A-plus for effort, already hard at work to keep hope alive among the faithful, with an article headlined, “MERELY THE END OF CHAPTER ONE: The Mueller Report, Rumored To Drop Next Week, Is Only the Beginning of Trump’s Hell.”
Here’s something else Whitaker recently said that was also instantly dismissed. During his congressional testimony, he revealed that U.S. Attorney John Huber and his team of fellow U.S. attorneys have been investigating the FISA abuses relating to the warrant the FBI obtained on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Who were the people directly involved in either the creation or the internal approval of the FISA warrant which relied knowingly heavily on information paid for by the Clinton campaign?
- FBI Director James Comey
- Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe
- Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates
- CIA Director John Brennan
- FBI Agent Peter Strzok
- FBI general counsel James Baker
- Special counsel to McCabe, Lisa Page
- Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson
- Former MI6 spy Christopher Steele
- Wife of high-ranking Justice Department (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr
What has been a standard talking point in many places in the right-leaning, Trump-supporting media for the past two years?
“Nothing’s happening to James Comey or Andrew McCabe or any of the other Spygate plotters. No investigations have been opened on these people and they are all being allowed to walk away without any consequences.”
Wrong. Whitaker just told everyone in a congressional hearing that both DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Utah U.S. Attorney Huber are investigating all these people. How could you investigate the FISA warrant without investigating the people involved in creating and proffering that warrant to the FISC court?
When I point this out, the usual comeback is, “But wouldn’t the DOJ have announced each of these individuals were specifically being investigated?”
I can offer six specific examples from just the past year of the DOJ opening criminal investigations into six different people, where there was no official announcement that those investigations had begun or were ongoing.
In none of these six cases was there any official or unofficial announcement that a criminal investigation had been opened into these people. We only learned of the investigations into Wanzhou, Fry, Edwards, and Wolfe when their indictments were unsealed and arrests were made after the investigations had completed.
In fact, there still hasn’t been any official confirmation from the DOJ of the investigations into McCabe and Baker.
This is nothing new. The DOJ often doesn’t reveal that an investigation has started or is underway. The first inkling the public has of any investigation is after the investigation is over, and the prosecutors have indicted the person and are ready to take their findings public.
Yet talking heads on television insist that if “anything” was being done to investigate Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Yates, or any of these other people involved in the Spygate scandal, the DOJ would talk to the news media about such investigations, there would be regular updates, and details would leak out.
This is absurd. We keep watching examples unfold before our eyes that this isn’t how things are done at the DOJ. They don’t announce that they are opening a criminal investigation into someone no matter how loudly people on TV insist they have a right to know what they are doing.
And even when an acting attorney general comes right out in a congressional hearing and reveals what people say they want to hear—that those involved in Spygate are being investigated by a team of U.S. attorneys for the shenanigans they pulled with that Carter Page warrant—people either completely miss what he said or instantly dismiss it. They want to stick with the narrative that nothing’s been happening behind the scenes.
Isn’t it time people in the media stopped playing this game of pretending not to understand how the DOJ does its work?
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter @drawandstrike.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.