Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker remains at the Justice Department, but in a very different role.
Whitaker, who last week appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, now works as a senior counselor in the office of the associate attorney general. That office oversees the Justice Department’s civil litigation as well as matters including civil rights, environmental and antitrust.
Meanwhile, William Barr is spending his first full day Friday as attorney general meeting with top-level staff and receiving briefings on Justice Department priorities. A Justice Department spokeswoman wouldn’t say if he’s been briefed yet on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
He was at the White House as President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to fulfill his pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump told his new attorney general to “enjoy your life.”
Barr, who served as attorney general between 1991 and 1993, also sent an internal memo to Justice Department staff on Friday in which he said he was honored to return to the job. He said that though there had been many changes, including advances in technology, much remained the same.
“The fair and impartial enforcement of our Nation’s laws remains vital to its well-being,” Barr wrote. “And the Attorney General remains responsible for ensuring the Department’s employees enforce those laws evenhandedly, without fear or favor, and – above all else – with the utmost integrity. During my time here, I will ensure that we do just that.”