US Representative Earl Blumenauer, of OR, called the move a "major step forward for marijuana reform", also noting that US Representative Pete Sessions, of Texas, who has obstructed votes on marijuana-related legislation as chair of the House Rules Committee, was defeated in Tuesday's midterm elections. He was accused of dismissing several USA attorneys in 2006 for politically partisan purposes.
Mueller's sweeping investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as any crimes that arose during the course of that investigation, has resulted in numerous indictments and guilty pleas.
If Sessions' departure was an "opening move" by Trump to meddle in Mueller's investigation, Hoyer said in a statement, "the president must be held accountable".
Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he's "profoundly concerned" that the new acting attorney general is someone who has criticized and publicly expressed skepticism about the Russian Federation investigation. It's a job he knows well given that Whitaker has spent the past year as Sessions' chief of staff.
He managed a Senate campaign for Sam Clovis in Iowa, who later was nominated to join the Trump administration, ran Iowa for Trump, and was interviewed by Mueller's investigators. Whitaker, a former Republican politician, has publicly called for limits on the Mueller probe. Republican Senator Susan Collins of ME criticized Trump for stripping Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of his role overseeing the probe.
The short-list came after George Conway III, a prominent lawyer, penned an op-ed in the New York Times along with former solicitor general Neal Katyal, arguing that Trump's power play at the Justice Department is 'unconstitutional'.
While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Conway explained President Trump is not planning to use the resignation as a way to shut down the Mueller probe.
"Under acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, it is imperative that the important work of the justice department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceed to its conclusion unimpeded", Romney said on Twitter.
"He's political to his core", a friend said of Whitaker.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is being considered by President Trump to become the next USA attorney general, two national news services are reporting. "It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious as a threat to democracy".
Whitaker has always been involved in Republican Party politics. The next attorney general could enjoy some more flexibility when it comes to enforcing federal marijuana laws.
He had also pressed to reauthorize a controversial secret domestic spying program over the Justice Department's protests. He added that he'd also support amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.
In both cases Whitaker could stand in the way.
After leaving the office of USA attorney in 2009, Whitaker, along with Chris Hagenow and Bill Gustoff, founded the law firm Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP. Justice Department officials said his taking over for his boss was, at the very least, "awkward", because chiefs of staff typically leave with the attorney general.
Whitaker's private legal career largely focused on white collar litigation.
Gustoff said he, Whitaker and Hagenow founded their law firm with common conservative beliefs and the goal of serving their faith, families and Iowans rather than exclusively to make money. "No one is above the law", Schiff said. After Pawlenty's bid fizzled, he served in the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns of Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who is now energy secretary.
During a 2014 primary debate for the Republican US Senate nomination from Iowa, Whitaker sympathized with patients who benefit from marijuana ingredient cannabidiol (CBD). During a debate that year, Whitaker said according to Mic, "that judges must be "people of the faith" with 'a biblical view of justice'".