Trump Repeatedly Claims He Doesn’t Know Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker
President Donald Trump spoke to reporters on the White House lawn Friday, and repeatedly denied he knew Matt Whitaker, the Justice Department official who was named acting attorney general after the ouster of Jeff Sessions.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker, Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions,” told reporters when asked about the official. “He was very, very highly thought of, and still is highly thought of.”
Those claims from Trump fly in the face of multiple reports that the two are familiar:
Trump, contra what he’s saying right now, does know Whitaker. Many meetings in Oval. One reason he picked him was because he liked him so much, per several Trump aides. (And saw him as skeptical of Mueller probe.)
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 9, 2018
Trump then complained that people who work for him become targets: “Anyone that works for me, they do a number on.”
“The choice was treated with raves initially,” he continued. “It’s a shame, that no matter who I put in, they go after them.”
Trump was asked about Robert Mueller‘s probe, and he replied: “I didn’t speak to Matt Whitaker about it.”
Trump stressed that Whitaker was “highly respected,” but also repeatedly pointed out that he is serving as attorney general in an “acting” capacity.
“He’s, probably from what I hear, a very strong person, a very strong personality,” Trump added.
Whitaker, chief of staff to Sessions, was named acting attorney general after Sessions tendered his resignation at the president’s request.
Since, his past comments as a pundit in conservative media have been scrutinized. He has declared that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt,” and even explained ways to neuter it. Whitaker is now overseeing the Mueller probe, which has fueled calls for him to recuse himself.
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