WASHINGTON – My colleague Ruth Marcus writes: “The acting attorney general of the United States is a crackpot.”
As though that’s a bad thing.
Which it isn’t.
The “crackpot” bit is not in dispute. In addition to his exotic legal views and his lack of relevant experience, Matthew G. Whitaker was already known to have hawked hot-tub seats for a business that shut down this year after reaching a $26 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for defrauding customers. But that’s just the beginning of the crackpottery.
During the current U.S. attorney general’s time on the company’s advisory board, from 2014 onward, World Patent Marketing:
Claimed that “DNA evidence collected in 2013 proves that Bigfoot does exist,” had a website selling Bigfoot paraphernalia and planned a celebrity event called “You Have Been Squatched!”Asserted that “time travel” could be “possible, perhaps within the next decade” and tried to raise money using bitcoin for time-travel research by one of Whitaker’s fellow board members. The company suggested users might “relive moments from your past” or “visit your future.”Announced, in the same media release heralding Whitaker’s appointment to the board, a patent application for an extra-deep “masculine toilet” for the well-endowed. Specifying the size of “average male genitalia,” the release said, “this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that.”Some think Whitaker’s association with the company (he did legal work for World Patent Marketing in addition to lending his name and hawking its wares) makes him patently unfit to serve. To the contrary, it is patently obvious he is the right man for this moment.
Only a man steeped in time travel and Bigfoot could successfully sell the notion that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry is a “hoax” that should be shut down. In tapping, as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, a man with experience with hucksterism and conspiracy theories, President Trump has embraced his inner crackpot.
And the crackpots embraced him.
An August 2015 video by World Patent Marketing, “Eight Lessons Entrepreneurs Learn From Donald Trump,” associated the company with Trump’s methods. “If you know your target market and speak to their concerns, you’ll get the feedback you’re looking for” it said, over images of Trump.
True – in politics, or time travel!
Trump has a history of promoting the extravagantly unqualified. After the White House doctor gushed about the overweight president’s excellent health, Trump tapped him to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. Trump’s choice to be chief scientist at the Agriculture Department was not a scientist. Trump gave other powerful positions to a Mar-a-Lago member, a Meineke Car Care manager, a bartender, a cabana attendant, a truck driver and Eric Trump’s wedding planner.
Whitaker fits well in this group. On his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire in 2003, when he was tapped to be a U.S. attorney, he was asked to list the “most significant cases” he litigated. The top two:
“Personal injury claim resulting from driver of automobile driving over Mr. Harkness’ leg.”“Breach of Contract and Negligence Claim arising out of dry cleaning performed by Lenox Cleaners that operated out of a Hy-Vee store in Creston, Iowa.”So his experience with World Patent Marketing really comes in handy. As The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman reported, Whitaker wrote “a series of letters” on behalf of the company. The Justice Department said Whitaker has said “he was not aware of any fraudulent activity.”
World Patent Marketing websites, in addition to selling Bigfoot, also offered phone cases featuring photos of nearly nude women. A promotional video features Whitaker’s advisory-board colleague kicking and punching people in kick-boxing matches. Whitaker, in Home Shopping Network style, promoted a razor blade that “easily folds into itself.”
The current attorney general evidently had no qualms about associating himself with World Patent Marketing chief executive Scott Cooper, who claimed that its Sasquatch pursuits would “be a billion-dollar brand” – particularly once Bigfoot was found. (In this, Cooper might get support from Rep.-elect Denver Riggleman, a Virginia Republican, who trafficked in “Bigfoot porn.”) Nor, apparently, did Whitaker have concerns about the company he advised, claiming there was “growing support from scientists” for time travel by 2026.
Too bad the company was shut down before then. Otherwise, Whitaker could go back to 2017, stop Mueller’s appointment before it happened and, before anybody noticed his absence, be back in the attorney general’s office – which had been outfitted with an extra-large toilet from the future.
Dana Milbank is a columnist for The Washington Post.