Minutes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' exit was announced by the White House, Sessions' chief of staff Matt Whitaker was named as acting attorney general.
With the naming of the little-known Whitaker to oversee the Department of Justice, official Washington began asking:
- Who was he.
- Would he would fire special counsel Robert Mueller?
Republican sources in Iowa who know Whitaker described the onetime tight end for the University of Iowa football team and former U.S. Attorney as a loyal Republican and Trump loyalist.
Most who spoke to questsin felt he would fire Mueller without hesitation if he felt he had to.
"I have known Matt for many years and can say he is a very strong straightforward kind of guy who believes in hard work and fair play," said Kim Schmett, former Polk County (Des Moines) Republican Chairman. "And he is not afraid to make tough decisions."
At 49, he has sought the Republican nomination for statewide office three times and lost. Most recently, he was a candidate for Senator in 2014 and placed fourth in a five-candidate primary won by present Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.
In 2017, he wrote an op-ed for CNN in which he concluded "Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing."
Whitaker seemed to foresee what happened Wednesday when he told CNN in July of 2017 he "could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment . . . and that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt."
"Whitaker is much more loyal to Trump than he was to Sessions," veteran political scientist Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute told questsin. "I fear the worst."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for questsin. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.