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.
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.”
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He also called Whitaker “a very highly respected man.” Whitaker was Sessions’ chief of staff before Trump made him Sessions’ interim replacement.
Whitaker was announced as the new attorney general on Wednesday afternoon after Trump asked former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.
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