Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served under President George W. Bush, said he was “concerned” about the appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general.
“I’m not sure he did himself any favors by comments he’s made on CNN about how to stop the Russia probe,” Gonzales said in an interview with Mediaite founder Dan Abrams on his SiriusXM show — Where Politics Meets the Law. “And I’m not sure the administration did itself any favors either by putting Matt in that position.”
Whitaker, who served as a U.S. attorney under President Bush, was tapped to serve as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions resigned at the president’s request on Wednesday.
“It raises a number of questions about whether or not he can be impartial,” Gonzales added, though he noted Whitaker will abide by the determinations of ethics officials at the Justice Department.
“Nonetheless, Matt is a wonderfully talented individual, it’s just hard for me to imagine he has more experience dealing with the department issues than someone like Rod Rosenstein,” Gonzales said. “I think one must wonder why Matt was selected for that position, even if temporary.”
Abrams pointed out it’s “pretty clear” Whitaker was selected for the position because of his criticisms of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Gonzales declined to speculate over Trump’s thinking in choosing Whitaker for the post, but pointed out there are more qualified officials at the Justice Department that could’ve been tapped for the role.
At the end of the interview, Abrams noted Gonzales was being cautious in his comments about Whitaker and his qualifications.
“I’m sorry that I’m kind of guarded in my comments,” Gonzales said. “I want to make one thing clear: I care very much about the department. My comments should not be interpreted as indicating that I am not concerned here. I am concerned here. I have questions here about this appointment.”
He noted again that Rosenstein would have made a good pick for attorney general. “The administration could have avoided itself a lot of headache by following the chain of authority and appointing someone else.”
“So yes, I’m concerned,” he concluded, expressing hope the appointment doesn’t have an effect on the Mueller investigation.
Listen here, via SiriusXM’s POTUS channel 124.
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