President Trump said Friday he has not spoken to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker about the Russia investigation, which Whitaker now oversees.
Trump said Whitaker was “highly thought of” but stressed he does not know him personally.
“I didn’t speak to Matt Whitaker” about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Trump told reporters at the White House.
The president also rejected the notion that Whitaker, who formerly served as a is ineligible to serve as attorney general, a position held by some legal experts who say the Justice Department leader must be confirmed by the Senate.
The president said Mueller wasn’t Senate confirmed, “so don’t talk to me about Whitaker.” The special counsel’s office is not subject to Senate confirmation, while the attorney general is. Mueller was also confirmed by the Senate as FBI director in 2001.
Before joining the Justice Department, Whitaker was an outspoken critic of Mueller’s investigation and many Democrats and legal scholars have said he should recuse himself from leading the probe.
Whitaker also claimed there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interference efforts in the 2016 election, which is the central question of the Mueller probe.
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