Former acting A.G. highlights career in D.C.

Matt Whitaker, former acting Attorney General, was the keynote speaker on Oct. 17 at the Jones County Republican Dinner. He talked about his time in the Trump cabinet. Other Republican candidates for state and federal races also addressed the crowd. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who served in the Trump Cabinet for about three months, was the keynote speaker on Oct. 17 at the Jones County Republican Fall Dinner in Anamosa. 

Whitaker is originally from Iowa, having grown up in Ankeny. He attended the University of Iowa, and played for the Iowa Hawkeye football team. 

Whitaker was appointed acting A.G. by President Donald Trump after A.G. Jeff Sessions resigned. Whitaker previously served as Sessions’ chief of staff. 

It was Whitaker’s presence that drew a record-breaking crowd at the fall dinner, with many curious as to his time in the Trump Administration. 

“I know why you all have me here. It’s not a secret,” Whitaker said to Jones County Republican Chair Gerald Retzlaff. “You want stories from that extraordinary time of being acting A.G. What was it like?” 

The day Whitaker found out he was appointed acting A.G. was a surreal moment in his professional career. 

“One of the real exceptional moments of the entire thing was the day that Sessions resigned. For me, it was a day like any other day,” he recalled. 

He said the night before, he spent time watching the mid-term election results roll in. There was a feeling of disappointment that the Republicans lost control of the House. 

The next morning, Whitaker drove to work and around 11:30 a.m., he was called into Sessions’ office to hear that Sessions was going to resign. 

“The first thing that runs through your mind, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. 

A little while later, Whitaker’s cell phone rang, showing an unknown number. It was Trump asking him to serve as acting A.G. until an appointment was made. Whitaker said he experienced feelings of being overwhelmed and disappointed at the same time. 

“God willing, I was up for this task. But on the other hand there was some sadness and disappointment that Sessions had resigned,” he said. “But I knew that I had to rise to the occasion. I had to do the job that I was asked to do.” 

Whitaker also shared his feelings on his House Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, which he said wasn’t necessary considering he was just “acting” A.G. 

“I did not know that all three of the cable news channels would broadcast it live all day,” he said. “And that people would watch it over and over on YouTube.” 

He referenced Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) for their lines of questioning during the hearing, what Whitaker called “unbelievable moments.” Jackson displayed a copy of the U.S. Constitution telling Whitaker there were certain rules that needed to be followed. Jeffries asked Whitaker what brought him to the acting role. 

“That was the whole farce of it,” said Whitaker. “It’s very frustrating. Instead of talking about the Department of Justice, the 110,000 employees, how to make everyone’s job easier, all they wanted to do was lambast me and accuse me of interfering in an investigation that I didn’t interfere in.” 

Whitaker said in modern-day Washington, D.C., the Democrats are not there to get anything done other than oust Trump. After two years of putting everyone through the Robert Mueller investigation, he said the Democrats immediately moved on to another investigation involving impeachment. 

“We need to be honest with what’s happening right now. This is all pure politics. This is Democrats in the House playing pure politics. Nothing more,” Whitaker said. 

He added that there is no evidence to support their notion of impeaching the president. 

“I’m a former federal prosecutor. When we had cases, we had to prove our cases with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt,” explained Whitaker. “Their evidence is so thin and yet the media, all of the left-leaning media, tries to convince us that what we see is not what we see.” 

Whitaker said he worked side-by-side with Trump every day during his time as acting A.G. He attested to Trump’s work ethic in getting things done, things Trump promised the American people he would accomplish. 

He also shared how much the news of these investigations impacted Trump’s daily life. 

“There are people like you in this room that are supporting him, praying for him, pulling for him, and will never abandon him. You see exactly what’s happening. You see exactly what this swamp and the media are trying to do to this president.” 

Knowing of Trump’s previous life as a TV personality and property owner, Whitaker said Trump does not need to be president because, simply put, he’s a billionaire. He said Trump wants to be president to help build up this country from the previous eight years. 

“But he’s doing it because he’s a patriot,” Whitaker said. “He knows we were on the wrong path after eight years of Obama and Biden. This constitutional republic, this America that we love and pledge allegiance to was vanishing. Our way of life was vanishing. Donald Trump saved our country. And the only way to keep it is to elect him to four more years.” 

Also speaking during the dinner were Iowa Senators Dan Zumbach and Carrie Koelker on the state of affairs in Iowa. 

Aside from Jones County Republicans, there were also Linn and Dubuque county Republicans in attendance. 

Those running for congressional races also addressed the attendees: Tom Hansen from Decorah who’s running for Dist. 1 (currently held by Abby Finkenauer), and a representative for Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion, who will be opposing Hansen in the primary. Dr. Steve Bradley of Cascade also announced his opposition against Rep. Andy McKean. 


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