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President Trump declined Thursday to deny that he was eyeing Matthew Whitaker as a replacement for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And suddenly, Whitaker’s past skepticism about the Russia investigation has taken on new significance.

Whitaker’s Russia commentary first cropped up when he was reported to be a likely replacement for Sessions’s No. 2, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a few weeks ago. Installing him as the No. 1, though, would give Whitaker even more power. It’s not clear he would take oversight of the Russia investigation, but there are other ways in which he could influence it.

Analysis | Trump’s potential new attorney general once mused about a new attorney general defunding Mueller

Matt Whitaker, who has been floated for both the Justice Department’s No. 2 and top jobs, wouldn’t oversee the probe. But his commentary on it raises questions.


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