A criminal subject president appointing his own prosecutor

Fred Wertheimer and Norm Eisen on Trump’s latest move:

After requesting and receiving Mr. Sessions’s resignation on Wednesday, President Trump wasted no time in naming Matthew Whitaker, Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, as acting attorney general, and shifted the oversight role from Mr. Rosenstein back to the attorney general’s office and its new acting head.

As ethics experts, we believe Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from the investigation. If we have ever seen an appearance of impropriety in our decades of experience, this is it: a criminal subject president appointing his own prosecutor — one who has evidently prejudged aspects of the investigation and mused about how it can be hampered.

No prosecutor — or indeed governmental official of any kind — should work on a matter under these circumstances. Mr. Whitaker must step aside. His conflicts are just as worrisome in their own way as Mr. Sessions’s conflict was, maybe more so.

Whether or not Mr. Whitaker steps aside, Mr. Trump’s audacity now demands additional safeguards. Congress must quickly put in place a plan to protect the Russia investigation before President Trump makes any further efforts to control the special counsel’s office.

It must, but will it?

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