Government

Report: Whitaker's honor while at UI overstated

Acting Attorney General wasn't an Academic All-American

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks Nov. 14 during a meeting with local law enforcement officers in Des Moines. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks Nov. 14 during a meeting with local law enforcement officers in Des Moines. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

WASHINGTON — Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has incorrectly claimed in government documents that he was named an Academic All-American while playing football for the University of Iowa, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The report said Whitaker made the claim in his biography on his former law firm’s website and on a resume sent in 2014 to the chief executive of a now-closed patent-marketing firm, where he sat on an advisory board.

The resume was included in documents released last month by the Federal Trade Commission, the Journal said.

President Donald Trump named Whitaker to his acting position Nov. 7, immediately after he ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Whitaker had been Sessions’ chief of staff, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa and a conservative commentator.

“Mr. Whitaker’s name doesn’t appear in the list of Academic All-Americans on the website of the organization that bestows the annual honor, the College Sports Information Directors of America,” the Journal reported.

It quoted a spokeswoman for the organization, Barb Kowal, as saying it had no record showing Whitaker, who was a tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1990 to 1992 and earned business and law degrees from the UI, was ever an Academic All-American.

Kowal said it appeared Whitaker was given a lower-level honor, according to the Journal.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Whitaker had relied on a 1993 UI football guide that listed him as a “GTE District VII academic All-American,” the Journal said. GTE was then the contest sponsor.

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The Journal quoted an assistant athletic director at the UI, Steve Roe, as saying any confusion could be partly from “how we listed it in our media guide.”

Earlier this month, Trump said he would nominate William Barr, who was attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush in the 1990s, to be the Justice Department’s new permanent chief, replacing Whitaker.

The nomination needs Senate approval.

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