Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

Trump says that he does not know his new AG, did not talk to him about the investigation of Russia

President Trump stops to talk to the media as he climbs aboard the Marine One and leaves the South White House lawn last month. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post)

President Trump attempted on Friday to downplay speculation that he summoned Interim Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker to stop the special advocate's investigation, informing reporters that he had been arrested. he did not know Whitaker and did not tell him about the probe.

"I did not talk to Matt Whitaker about it," Trump told reporters as he left the White House heading for Paris. "I do not know Matt Whitaker."

His comments were held two days after Trump ousted Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and installed Whitaker, Sessions' chief of staff and former US attorney in Iowa, as a senior official of the Department of Justice.

The Washington Post reported this week that one of the reasons Trump loved Whitaker was that Whitaker had repeatedly informed him because the president preferred not to talk to Sessions, which he had often disparaged publicly.

Since he's assuming his new duties, Whitaker has been confronted with questions – mostly from Democrats – about whether he should refrain from overseeing the investigation of the Special advice on Russia's interference in the election of 2016, while he had already criticized the investigation in opinion articles and as a television commentator.

Whitaker's appointment also prompted questions from Democrats as to whether Trump had brought him in to stop the investigation into Mueller, who is examining a possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia. and possible obstruction of the investigation by Trump.

Trump asked a reporter when he hired Whitaker to slow down the investigation, and replied, "What a stupid question."

While claiming he did not know Whitaker, Trump praised him as "a very strong person with a very strong personality," saying it was what the Department of Justice needed at this point.

"Matthew Whitaker is a very smart man," said Trump. "He is a highly respected man in the community of law enforcement. . . . The choice was welcomed with praise at the start.

Trump also sought to rule out the idea that Whitaker should recuse himself from monitoring the investigation of Russia. Trump suggested he would have little choice for the position of Attorney General and other important government positions if he eliminated all those who had been on television.

"Should we hire someone in a shell? I do not think so, "said Trump.

The newspaper reported Thursday that Whitaker had no intention of recusing himself to oversee the investigation, according to his relatives.

Trump also sought to rule out suggestions from some lawyers – including George Conway, the husband of White House advisor Kellyanne Conway – that the Constitution requires Whitaker to be confirmed by the Senate before he begins his duties.

Trump claimed that Whitaker had been "confirmed at the highest level" because his appointment to the US law office in Iowa had been approved by the Senate.

Trump also complains that Mueller was not subject to Senate confirmation until he began serving a special council.

Asked about possible permanent replacements for the sessions, Trump said he loved the former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie (D), but did not tell him about his work.

Trump also reiterated that he frequently claimed that Mueller's investigation was a "hoax".

"There is no collusion," said Trump. "It's an entire hoax."

He stated that the reason he won the presidential election of 2106 was that he was the best candidate and that the Democratic Hillary Clinton "did not know what she was doing ".


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