Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee renewed their concerns Tuesday, writing in a letter to Justice officials that Whitaker’s financial disclosure forms were only recently certified as true by ethics officials (after multiple revisions), and moreover “the Department has not produced prior versions of Mr. Whitaker’s financial disclosures, any ethics agreements he entered into with the Department, or any other ethics-related counseling he has received.”
“Acting AG Whitaker is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice, including consulting with senior ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal,” Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told CNN on November 12.
It is not uncommon for the Justice Department to decline to discuss recusal issues when doing so may confirm the existence of certain investigations that are not yet public, but its steadfast refusal to confirm whether Whitaker has even initiated an ethics review has raised eyebrows.
“The whole point of the ethics rules is to ensure that government officials are working in the public interest free from conflicts. With every passing day, DOJ’s silence undermines public confidence in the rule of law,” Austin Evers, executive director of the watchdog organization American Oversight, told CNN. “The ethics analysis for Matthew Whitaker should be straightforward and it should be done by now.”
While calls for information have been met with radio silence at the department thus far, Whitaker’s private conversations with lawmakers have confirmed he has no intention of stepping aside.
But in a few weeks, when Democrats take the reins in the House, Whitaker may face increasing pressure to answer these ethics-related questions.
Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland — key Democrats slated to lead the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively — spoke to Whitaker by phone late last week, and while sources briefed on the call said the acting attorney general provided little information, one Democratic aide said the House Judiciary Committee expects him to answer questions fully in January.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.
more recommended stories
Detroit Council rejects car stunt due to Confederate flag
Some of the participating vehicles have.
Cooper reacts to Trump's golf trip after declaring emergency
CNN’s Anderson Cooper questions President Trump’s.
Former ISIS bride who went to Syria says she 'interpreted everything very wrong'
Hoda Muthana left ISIS with her.
White House moves forward with wall funding despite lawsuits
In the face of several lawsuits.
Lawmakers seek probe of ICE force-feeding of immigrants
Reporting found ICE was force-feeding immigrant.
Trump defies every restraint – CNNPolitics
A profound question when Trump entered.
Besieged ISIS militants refuse to surrender, ask for an exit
More than 300 militants surrounded in.
Harris says he has no knowledge of operative doing anything illegal
Harris initially won the state’s 9th.
FBI investigates possible election fraud in North Carolina
North Carolina’s State Board of Elections.
Arizona man rescued at Zion National Park after getting trapped in quicksand
A Zion National Park visitor spent.