Just days after President Donald Trump appointed Jeff Sessions’s Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker to take over Sessions’s role as attorney general, Whitaker has changed his Twitter account to private status. Whitaker’s tweets are now hidden from public view.
Whitaker used Twitter to weigh in on a number of issues related to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation that would typically require recusal under Justice Department rules.
On July 27, 2017, he called any effort by the legislature to protect Mueller’s role “a mistake.” He linked on Aug. 6, 2017, to a CNN opinion piece he’d written asserting Mueller’s investigation had gone too far. The next day, he posted a link to a story recommending that Trump’s lawyer not cooperate with “Mueller lynch mob,” noting it was “Worth a read.”
On Aug. 10, 2017, Whitaker wondered aloud if Mueller was trying to entrap former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort by making a case that Manafort had lied to Congress. Manafort was found guilty of several campaign and finance charges in August and pleaded guilty to additional ones and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in September to avoid a trial.
Whitaker, a former Senate candidate and the sole employee of a conservative nonprofit, appeared regularly on CNN from June to September 2017. He was voluble in his appearances at CNN defending Trump, in his online writing, and to a lesser extent on Twitter.
While some speculated the “46” in his Twitter handle MattWhitaker46 referred to a future run at president—Trump is the 45th U.S. president—it ostensibly refers to his jersey number, 46, when he played with the Iowa Hawkeyes football team from 1989 to 1982.