Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is scheduled to be in Austin on Tuesday to meet with officials from the local office of the Department of Justice and to hold a news conference. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco is also scheduled to be in attendance, according to a bulletin that the management company where the Department of Justice is located sent to its tenants late last week. Texas Monthly is one of those tenants.
The announcement comes on the same day that President Trump confirmed that he will nominate former Attorney General William P. Barr to permanently fill the position as head of the Justice Department that Whitaker now temporarily occupies. The management company of the building in which the press conference will be held said a contingent of Austin police officers will be on hand Tuesday to bolster security for the event, which has not been publicly announced by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Austin. The U.S. Department of Justice also has made no public announcement regarding any press conference.
Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general on November 7 when Trump asked then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his resignation as America’s top justice official. Whitaker’s appointment has been met with controversy. Whitaker, who was chief of staff to Sessions, has been vocal in the past of his criticism of the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Whitaker is viewed as a Trump loyalist whose elevation to the top spot could have been a pretext to stopping the investigation that has dogged the president since he assumed office.
Critics argued that Whitaker’s appointment was illegal since the deputy attorney general, in this case Rod J. Rosenstein, is supposed to be elevated to the top spot if the attorney generalship becomes vacant. Solicitor General Francisco sent a memo to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that a second law permitted the appointment of Whitaker and urged the high court not to intervene in any dispute until lower courts had addressed the issue.