The country reacts to former UI student and Hawkeye football player becoming attorney general

Sessions is gone and UI alum Matthew Whitaker is replacing him for now.


Gage Miskimen, Editor in Chief

After President Trump fired Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, it was announced that Matthew Whitaker would take his place, at least temporarily, as the interim attorney general.

Whitaker is a UI alum and former Hawkeye football player, playing in the 1991 Rose Bowl.

In his new role, Whitaker will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Whitaker has voiced his criticism of the investigation in the past, including writing an opinion column for CNN titled “Muller’s investigation of Trump is going too far.”

Aside from the column, Whitaker said in an interview on Sirius XM radio that “There’s not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign had any illegal or improper relationships with Russians.”

Whitaker said in a statement on Wednesday that he is “committed to leading a fair Department with the highest ethical standards, that upholds the rule of law, and seeks justice for all Americans.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) released a statement Wednesday night about Whitaker, stating “Fellow Iowan Matt Whitaker is a man of integrity and values. As Acting Attorney General, Matt Whitaker is a steady hand that will provide good leadership and judgment, and will ensure that the United States Department of Justice upholds the highest standards of the rule of law.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reiterated what his fellow senator said about Whitaker in his own statement.

“I look forward to working with Matt Whitaker as he takes the helm of the Justice Department. A fellow Iowan, who I’ve known for many years, Matt will work hard and make us proud. The Justice Department is in good hands during this time of transition.”

Politicians from around the nation also reacted to Whitaker’s new role on Twitter.

Trump tweeted that Whitaker will “serve our Country well.”

Senator-elect and former Presidential nominee Mitt Romney (R-Utah) thanked Sessions and stressed the importance of the Mueller investigation.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said it is troubling that Whitaker has been critical of the Mueller investigation.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) echoed other Democrats’ concerns saying that Whitaker should come before the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as possible.

People around the country, including in Iowa City, protested Whitaker’s appointment to oversee the Mueller investigation.