Oct 23, 2019

Former acting AG Matt Whitaker: "Abuse of power is not a crime"

Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Tuesday told Fox News' Laura Ingraham that "abuse of power is not a crime," while arguing against the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

What he's saying: Whitaker came to the president's defense after Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told House investigators on Tuesday that Trump conditioned the release of military aid on the Ukrainian president's willingness to investigate natural gas company Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election.

"I'm a former prosecutor and what I know is this is a perfect time for a preliminary hearing, where you would say, 'Show us your evidence. What evidence of a crime do you have?' The Constitution ... abuse of power is not a crime. Let's fundamentally boil it down to ... the Constitution is very clear that this has to be some pretty egregious behavior, and they cannot tell the American people what this case is even about right now."
— Matthew Whitaker

Background: Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney, briefly led the Department of Justice from November 2018 through February 2019, before William Barr's nomination. He oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation amid questions surrounding the legality of his temporary appointment and fears that he would intervene in the probe.

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Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

4 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.