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‘I don’t know Matt Whitaker,’ Trump says after appointing him as acting attorney general

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ABOVE: 'I don't know Matt Whitaker,' Donald Trump says. – Nov 9, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is moving to distance himself from Matthew Whitaker as he faces criticism over his choice for acting attorney general.

Trump told reporters Friday “I don’t know Matt Whitaker” and said he didn’t speak with Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

READ MORE: New U.S. attorney general has been critical of Mueller investigation in past

Whitaker has made public comments critical of Mueller’s investigation, and critics have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from oversight of the inquiry. Under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the investigation was overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Of the scrutiny Whitaker is facing, Trump said: “It’s a shame that no matter who I put in they go after.”

WATCH: Conway comments on Sessions resignation, praises acting attorney general Whitaker

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Kellyanne Conway comments on Sessions resignation, praises acting attorney general Whitaker – Nov 7, 2018

He also called Whitaker “a very highly respected man.” Whitaker was Sessions’ chief of staff before Trump made him Sessions’ interim replacement.

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Whitaker was announced as the new attorney general on Wednesday afternoon after Trump asked former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.

WATCH: Trump says he hasn’t talked to Chris Christie about the Attorney General position

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Trump says he hasn’t talked to Chris Christie about the Attorney General position – Nov 9, 2018