Trump on new acting AG: I dont know Matt Whitaker

Pauline Gross
November 12, 2018

President Donald Trump sought to distance himself from the Justice Department official he just named as acting attorney general in the face of mounting criticism about the legality and propriety of his appointment.

Trump has not said whom he will nominate to permanently replace Sessions.

Other critics have slammed Trump's decision to appoint Whitaker as acting attorney general over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because the move puts Whitaker in charge of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, which Whitaker had been publicly critical of.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department has said Whitaker would oversee all matters under its jurisdiction, including the Mueller investigation.

Trump told reporters on Friday morning, "I don't know Matthew Whitaker", directly contradicting himself after he told Fox and Friends last month, "I mean, I know Matt Whitaker".

The president rejects calls for the acting attorney general to recuse himself from overseeing the Russian Federation probe over comments he made in 2017 about the Mueller investigation.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Paris, Friday Nov. 9, 2018, where they will participate in World War I commemorations.

The comments Friday from Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came as Whitaker's past business ties and remarks on Mueller's probe and other topics drew scrutiny from Democrats and ethics groups. When asked whether he required a "Levitical or New Testament" view of justice, Whitaker specified the New Testament. The protesters gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the appointment of Matthew Whitaker - who has expressed criticisms of the Russian Federation probe - as Acting Attorney General.

In a separate interview past year with the Wilkow Majority on SiriusXM radio, Whitaker opined on the Mueller investigation, saying, "The truth is there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign".

In an op-ed in August past year he publicly urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - who oversees the probe - to "limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel".

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Whitaker has questioned Mueller's authority to investigate aspects of Trump's election campaign and suggested how to end the investigation: by cutting its budget. He also tweeted an ex-prosecutor's opinion piece that described a "Mueller lynch mob" and said it was "worth a read".

He also called Whitaker "a very highly respected man".

The Appointments Clause of the US Constitution states that some senior government officials, known as "principal officers", must be confirmed by the Senate.

"The Russia investigation is a hoax... a phony hoax", Trump added.

The president "thinks highly" of Whitaker, Larson said.

Trump repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse himself.

And, if nothing else, having an attorney general who isn't recused from Mueller's work might give the White House a clearer look inside it.

Legal scholars, meanwhile, have debated the constitutionality of Whitaker's appointment, with some lawyers saying it is illegal because Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate.

The CNN story also cites an administration source who says that Kushner and Christie are on good terms and agree on prison reform efforts.

Other reports by GizPress

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