Short-lived reign for act­ing AG?

Pres­i­dent says he doesn’t know his re­cent ap­pointee

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - MORNING BRIEFING - By Eric Tucker and Jonathan Lemire The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Matthew Whi­taker’s fu­ture at the helm of the Jus­tice Depart­ment ap­peared un­cer­tain Fri­day as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­nied know­ing the man he had named act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral just two days ear­lier.

The Se­nate’s top Repub­li­can pre­dicted a per­ma­nent re­place­ment could be named soon for Whi­taker, who is now over­see­ing the Trump-rus­sia probe.

Speak­ing to re­porters Fri­day, Trump said, “I don’t know Matt Whi­taker.” That con­tra­dicted Trump’s re­marks on Fox News last month, when he called Whi­taker “a great guy” and said, “I mean, I know Matt Whi­taker.”

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell, mean­while, said, “I think this will be a very in­terim AG.” An­other Repub­li­can sen­a­tor, Su­san Collins of Maine, said she was con­cerned by some of Whi­taker’s past com­ments and called for leg­is­la­tion that would place lim­its on his abil­ity to fire spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

Whi­taker stayed out of the pub­lic de­bate Fri­day. He sent a depart­ment-wide note af­ter his ap­point­ment in which he said, “As we move for­ward, I am com­mit­ted to lead­ing a fair Depart­ment with the high­est eth­i­cal stan­dards, that up­holds the rule of law, and seeks jus­tice for all Amer­i­cans.”

Le­gal schol­ars are de­bat­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of his ap­point­ment, with some lawyers say­ing it is il­le­gal be­cause he has not been con­firmed by the Se­nate.

On Fri­day, Trump said he had not spo­ken with Whi­taker about Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which un­til now has been over­seen by Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein. Rosen­stein told re­porters Fri­day that based on his ex­pe­ri­ences with Whi­taker, “I think he’s a su­perb choice for at­tor­ney gen­eral.”

Of the scru­tiny Whi­taker is fac­ing, Trump said, “It’s a shame that no mat­ter who I put in they go af­ter.”

“He was very, very highly thought of, and still is highly thought of, but this only comes up be­cause any­body that works for me, they do a num­ber on them,” Trump said.

Matthew Whi­taker

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