DEAR MR. WHITAKER
UNCONDITIONAL LOYALTY TO MR. TRUMP REQUIRES SELF-DEBASEMENT. IT COULD ALSO SEND YOU TO A FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, IF SOMETHING ELSE DOESN’T LAND YOU THERE FIRST.
Untitled, Marker, 13.5" x 18", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
“Love is preserved by the link of obligation . . . Which is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
Dear Mr. Whitaker:
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Acting Attorney General of the United States of America. You executed the audition flawlessly. You denounced on cable news the Special Counsel’s appointment and investigation of Mr. Trump’s potential ties to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and suggested a road map to shutting it down. You also demeaned the judiciary as a separate and considerably less than equal branch of government. Your reputation and distinctive qualifications to work in this administration precede you. You sat on the board and used your name and reputation on behalf of a company accused of having defrauded a multitude of consumers out of millions of dollars, a company the FTC ordered to pay $26,000,000.00, even more than Mr. Trump paid for having scammed Trump University enrollees.
Just a word or two of caution.
Few people escape Mr. Trump without a permanent stench, after willingly compromising themselves by the association. Some, like you, are eager and believe, unwittingly, that this is a step to higher aspirations. The primary qualification to working for Mr. Trump is unconditional loyalty—or the appearance thereof. Such loyalty, experience teaches, extends only one direction. Due to the character of the people who are willing to exhibit such fidelity to a person of Mr. Trump’s character, that loyalty cannot be trusted. Why? It attracts unprincipled people. Those willing to manifest such loyalty must, by definition, be deficient of other qualities, such as personal integrity, self-respect, unselfishness/selflessness, honesty, competence and . . . well, loyalty; maybe even basic humanity, certainly a commitment to facts, truth, the rule of law and to the oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States from enemies domestic. I’m not suggesting that everyone in Mr. Trump's cabinet exhibits such loyalty to Mr. Trump. Plenty do, and did. We will see how that turns out for them. But you know all this. Mr. Trump would not have appointed you to this prestigious position, the chief law enforcement officer of the Unite States, a role vital to the credibility of the Department of Justice and the FBI, were he not already satisfied that you meet his qualifications.
Your loyalty to Mr. Trump will give way under the weight of its one-sidedness and the prospect of facing the loss of your personal liberty, family, livelihood, property and resources. Given the recent adventures of Messers. Cohen and Manafort in the Trump cesspool, your fierce loyalty to Mr. Trump will drown, becoming conditional-to-non-existent when the likelihood of having to face years, possibly decades, in state and/or federal correctional facilities sinks in. The core of the charade of loyalty to Mr. Trump is self-debasement. Again, if you have even a scintilla of self-awareness, you already know this.
The mid-term elections taught us that the American people want merits-based outcomes, outcomes they can trust and believe in. A merits-based outcome can be assured only if a set of rules exists by which everyone abides, including compliance with the underlying rules that apply to everyone, a uniformly applied rule of law above which no one exists. Your recent appointment is anathema to a merits-based outcome. Your fealty to Mr. Trump and against the rule of law, and refusal to recuse despite bright-line conflicts of interest tell the American people the fix was in. No self-respecting person could believe otherwise.
Cheaters are liars. They deceive. They break the rules. They behave as though the rules do not and should not have to apply to them. Cheaters are not only willing but eager to achieve an outcome through deception, manipulation, misrepresentation and fraud. The appearance of merit is conjured to obscure the cheaters’ dearth of skill, authenticity or compliance. When caught, they usually deny having cheated or attempt to justify their behavior. The unsuccessful cover-up simply exposes the level of corruption and, possibly, obstruction. By definition, cheaters can never be the best, except at cheating, because the outcome was not on the merits. Cheaters are morally bankrupt.
Between January 20, 2017 and last Tuesday, the cheaters had overcome their outlier status. Led by someone whose life and career are defined by extraordinary cheating (the best-of-the-best [just ask him]), these mainstreamed cheaters have controlled the mechanisms and institutions established by the meta-rules (Constitution, Oaths of Office) and the rules themselves (e.g., Criminal Code, Special Counsel regulations) for policing, catching, exposing and sanctioning the cheaters. Their highest virtue—correction—their only virtue is “winning,” and through whatever means are required. Indeed, nothing is of merit to these folks except the level and quality and effectiveness of their deceptions—The Art of the(ir) Cheat. And so they undermine and dismantle the very mechanisms and institutions designed to root out the rot and thereby protect merits-based governance. An attempt to continue that process is where you come in, at the very time a majority of American voters have decided to reject the cheating and return the cheaters to their outlier status and expose them for what they are.
Why do cheaters cheat? Because they are unable to withstand a merits-based challenge and unwilling to forgo the victor’s spoils.
Set aside, for the moment, the mass cheating that occurs within American politics.
Set aside, for the moment, cheating via gerrymandering, designed by partisan cheaters to assure elections are not on the merits.
Set aside, for the moment, cheating via voter suppression, designed by partisan cheaters to assure elections are not on the merits.
Set aside, for the moment, sustained cheating by lying about extensive contacts throughout the campaign with Russian operatives, all designed by cheaters to assure the election was not on the merits.
Set aside, for the moment, cheating by accepting Russia's illegally-obtained opposition research, designed and enthusiastically adopted by cheaters to assure the election was not on the merits.
Set aside, for the moment, endorsing and engaging in treasonous behavior with Russia in its cheating by infiltrating social media and information systems with false sources and narratives and disinformation, all designed by a conspiracy of cheaters to assure the outcome was not on the merits.
Set aside, for the moment, that the American people were very likely cheated out of a merits-based election (and certainly a majority-based election) and the GOP and its current architect are continuing that effort through the finalization of the mid-term results.
Set aside, for the moment, that none of Mr. Trump’s decisions, including your appointment, are reliably on the merits because he lacks any capacity for principled thinking, is incapable of thinking outside his fragile ego, is easily manipulated by flattery, is pathologically insecure, sells his office for access and influence, solicits and accepts emoluments from foreign sources, and places his financial interests above the Constitution and citizens of the United States.
Instead, focus for a moment on the a priori question of whether our constitutional form of government accommodates Mr. Trump’s assertion he is above the law. You have become his latest instrument in sustaining that fiction, preceded by Mr. Kavanaugh. That he is not above the law seems obvious. Still, by undermining any rule that requires merit (which we now know the cheaters could never attain), you are Mr. Trump’s most recent appointee to assure Mr. Trump and the rest of that racketeer influenced corrupt organization that is the Trump family and his administration are not held to account.
You have joined Mr. Trump as part of the lowest common denominator. With Mr. Trump and the current state of the GOP, nothing is on the merits except the quality of the cheat.
Mr. Whitaker, if you persist in refusing to recuse from oversight of the Mueller investigation and you do anything to interfere with its progress or outcome, the likelihood of your going to prison—for obstruction of justice and conspiracy with Mr. Trump to obstruct justice—will be high.
A concerned citizen
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com
**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in lastamendment.com