DES MOINES, Iowa- Acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker is in Des Moines today (Wednesday) for the Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Summit. Whitaker also met with state and local law enforcement officials to update efforts to combat violent crime and the opioid crisis. Today's events were Whitaker's first public appearances since being named Acting U.S. Attorney General.
Whitaker's message to law enforcement was that the Trump Administration intends to support them. He offered stats on criminal prosecution, saying that during fiscal year 2017, violent criminal prosecutions were higher than in any year on record and in fiscal year 2018, prosecutions increased by 15-percent.
He says law enforcement agencies have also broken records for illegal drug seizures.
Whitaker's visit to Des Moines comes as the Justice Department has released a statement, defending his appointment as acting AG.
The DOJ says the selection was entirely legal and that the White House was given that advice beforehand the selection was announced.
The DOJ has issued a 20-page written opinion, indicating the President could designate a senior Department of Justice official, such as Whitaker, as acting attorney general.
Whitaker is a former US Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, and is also a former Iowa Hawkeye football player.
(Photo from Channel 13 WHO-TV)