He recused himself from overseeing the Justice Department investigation in March 2017, after revelations that he had failed to report encounters with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign.
Separately, Justice Department prosecutors in NY secured a guilty plea from Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who said the president directed him to arrange hush money payments before the 2016 election to two women who said they had sex with Trump.
That's the type of statement by the commander in chief that makes it all the more important that the officials at Justice Department are clearly not going by direction from the White House, but instead are following the facts and doing the law. In the past, senior Justice Department officials tend to follow such advice, but they are rarely required to do so, according to officials familiar with the process.
Goodlatte's office was not immediately available for comment.
"He's political to his core", a friend said of Whitaker.
The two people close to Whitaker also said they strongly believe he would not approve any request from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to subpoena the president.
Trump has continued pressing his view that Mueller leads a team staffed by Democrats operating under an illegal mandate.
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The Justice Department has declined to answer whether ethics officials have been asked to review if Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller probe.
Whitaker, a former US attorney from Iowa who twice ran unsuccessfully for statewide office and founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists, once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe. Trump, who did not speak with Sessions himself, then ducked questions about Sessions' fate at the news conference.
The possibility that Sessions was sacked could open Whitaker's appointment to court challenge by a range of people, including Mueller, impacted by his actions.
Whitaker was virtually unknown to Sessions before becoming his chief of staff.
'The president is very depressed, ' this person said.
Peskov says Sessions' departure isn't something for the Kremlin to weigh in on. Reports Wednesday night suggested Whitaker has taken on that role.
Whitaker was a hard-charging top aide to Sessions, imposing on the Justice Department his personal philosophy of starting with the end in mind.