After the resignation (at President Trump’s request) of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, focus has turned to the views of his replacement, Matthew Whitaker. According to resurfaced video from 4 years ago, he thinks the Christian religion should play more of a part in the American justice system.
Back in 2014 when he was a Republican candidate for the Iowa Senate, Whitaker was asked what rationale he would use to block federal judges nominated by then-president Barack Obama. According to Whitaker, the usual criteria for determining the competency of judges doesn’t “get us far enough.”
“Because natural law is often used from the eye of the beholder, if you will,” Whitaker said according to clips of the event saved by People For the American Way. “I’d like to see things like their world view. What informs them? How have they lived their life? Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? Which I think is very important.”
“What I know is that as long as they have that worldview, that they’ll be a good judge,” he continued. “And if they have a secular worldview, that ‘this is all we have here on Earth’, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”
Whitaker, who is a former lawyer and prosecutor, was Sessions’ chief of staff before being named by Trump as acting attorney general. A permanent replacement for Sessions will come later.
The Russia investigation could also be under threat with Whitaker at the helm of the Justice Department. According to reports, he’s expressed skepticism of the probe, even calling Robert Mueller’s appointment as Special Council “ridiculous” and “a little fishy.”
In a radio interview from last year, he said that he hopes the Russia probe doesn’t turn into a “fishing expedition.”
“I will be one of them ones jumping up and down making sure the limitations on this investigation continue because that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.
On The Sean Hannity Show last year, Whitaker said he didn’t think Trump’s meetings with former FBI director James Comey amounted to obstruction of justice.
“Let’s assume that the President asked him to stop investigating [Michael Flynn],” Whitaker said. “That doesn’t rise to the level of obstruction of justice and it doesn’t sound to me, based on what’s been reported, that Jim Comey, as he sat there, believed that the President was telling him to stop the investigation. As you know in the law and in these types of situations, the words and whatever the president did or didn’t say is going to be very important. And, if all he did was make a mere suggestion and not an outright command, I don’t think that rises to the level of obstruction of justice.”
There are other examples of Whitaker expressing similar sentiments.
Writing the Des Moines Register, Rekha Basu says that as a lawyer, Whitaker should know that “setting religious conditions for holding a public office would violate the Iowa and U.S. constitutions.”
“He was effectively saying that if elected, he would see no place for a judge of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or other faith, or of no faith,” Basu writes. “Yet no one in the audience or on the podium seemed to have a problem with that, and his answer drew applause.”
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube