Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s comment at the end of his six hours before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that he was “aware of documents relating to pardons of individuals” has raised speculation about whether he inadvertently revealed some pardons in the works connected to the Russia investigation, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Unfortunately for those seeking some sort of clarity, there was no follow-up to his answer, as it came at the end of the five-minute limit for the congresswoman who asked it.
Making matters even murkier is, earlier in the hearing, Whitaker addressed the topic more specifically by saying he had “not been involved” in any pardon discussions, including for Russia investigation figures.
One explanation is perhaps Whitaker was “aware” of discussions but had not participated in them, which would make both his answers consistent and allow for some Russia pardon to have come to his attention, the Post said.
But another plausible theory is Whitaker could have been aware of pardon applications when he previously served in the Justice Department, while the earlier answer pertained to a question about specific individuals currently.
The Washington Post said “to believe Whitaker spilled the beans on potential Russia-related pardons, we would need to believe that he botched an answer to a question he had already answered – or that he was leaning heavily on the word ‘involved’ at the risk of potential legal jeopardy for making false statements.”
The Post concluded “No matter what you think of Whitaker, the less-nefarious explanations probably make the most sense.”
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