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Whitaker’s past business dealings under scrutiny
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's past work in private business has received fresh scrutiny in the days since he was appointed to temporarily lead the Justice Department.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that while in private business, Whitaker abandoned a taxpayer-funded apartment project and defaulted on a loan for nearly $700,000 related to the project.
Whitaker formed MEM Investments with two business partners and earned a $166,000 loan from the city of Des Moines through a Department of Housing and Urban Development grant program to refurbish a vacant apartment building in 2012, the AP reported.
Public records obtained by the AP showed that Whitaker walked away from the project in 2016 after it ran into delays and excessive costs.
The city of Des Moines took away an affordable housing loan to Whitaker's company related to the project, and Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000, the AP reported.
Several contractors said they were not paid for the project, and filed liens for more than $32,000 as a result.
A lawyer who represented Whitaker's company did not return a phone call from the AP.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
Whitaker's past comments and business dealings as a private citizen have received fresh scrutiny in recent days after he was tapped to lead the Justice Department following President Trump's ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Critics have seized on past opinion pieces Whitaker wrote for The Hill and CNN advocating for curbing the scope of the special counsel's investigation, and suggesting stifling its funding. He penned both pieces prior to joining the Department of Justice to serve as Sessions's chief of staff.
Democrats and legal experts have questioned the legality of Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general, noting that he was not confirmed by the Senate and questioning his qualifications.
Prior to departing for a trip to France last Friday, the president defended Whitaker as a "very well respected man in the law enforcement community" but claimed he does not know him personally. Observers quickly noted that Trump had praised Whitaker during an Oct. 11 interview.