President Trump’s statements about his past relationship, if any, with Matthew Whitaker, the man he recently appointed as acting Attorney General, have been inconsistent, as he most recently said that he does not know him. White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway, however, said on Sunday morning news program Fox News Sunday that he does know Whitaker and has known him for about a year.
The Huffington Post reported that President Trump stated in an interview with Fox & Friends last month that he knew Whitaker.
“I can tell you Matt Whitaker’s a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.”
When Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation at Trump’s request last week, the president appointed Whitaker to the position on a temporary basis until a permanent replacement can be found. It’s a decision that’s been met with lots of criticism, as it puts Whitaker in charge of the Mueller investigation, an investigation to which he has repeatedly expressed his opposition in the past. Sessions’ departure came after a year of the president publicly attacking him for recusing himself from oversight of Mueller’s investigation. When speaking to reporters about the appointment Friday, the president said he didn’t know Whitaker.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions and he was extremely highly thought of and he still is. But I didn’t know Matt Whitaker.”
Kellyanne Conway said that the president had been misunderstood after she was asked about Trump’s conflicting statements from Sunday morning.
“The president does know Matt Whitaker, has gotten to know him over the course of the last year since he has been the chief of staff to the attorney general. The president’s point is it’s not like he’s putting a friend in there who he’s known for his entire life. He’s putting somebody who has been working at the Department of Justice for 13 months now in a very senior position.”
When asked whether President Trump was aware of Whitaker’s history of decrying Robert Mueller’s investigation, Conway said that she didn’t even know if Whitaker has been briefed on the investigation. Fox News’ Chris Wallace later challenged Conway to explain how he could provide impartial oversight of an investigation to which he has been openly critical for months,
Speaking to Wallace, Conway minimized Whitaker’s past comments, saying that “we are so far past the period in which these comments were made by Matthew Whitaker.” She added that it “would be a mistake to try to shut down the Mueller investigation, in the way that you describe it because we’ve been so compliant.”