Trump Denies Knowing Attorney General He Met Over a Dozen Times

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That investigation is now being lead by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and has overseen the probe's work.

McConnell, meanwhile, said "I think this will be a very interim AG".

The appeals court panel heard oral arguments on the case on Thursday, during which the judges said that it should be argued as if the shake-up at the Justice Department hadn't happened, but indicated that they were likely to ask for briefing on the change of leadership.

Meanwhile, a New York Times op-ed published Thursday claims that Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as new acting attorney general is unconstitutional.

"When Trump complained about the Mueller investigation, Whitaker often smiled knowingly and nodded in assent, the official said".

But in an interview with "Fox & Friends" on October 11, the president was asked to respond to a report in the Washington Post that he had talked to Whitaker - at the time Sessions's chief of staff - about replacing the attorney general.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump defended his choice of Whitaker, who has been panned by critics for his past comments on the probe, saying the former US attorney had an excellent reputation and came highly recommended by former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is now Trump's ambassador to China.

But as special counsel, Mueller didn't require Senate confirmation.

Trump then tried to take a shot against Mueller for not being "Senate confirmed" - while also claiming that Whitaker, the former United States attorney for Iowa, has been. He has also extended attacks to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, calling the Russian investigation a "witch hunt". "To #ProtectMueller's investigation, Acting Attorney General Whitaker must recuse himself given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation".

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Whitaker was known to be skeptical about Mueller's probe on alleged Russian interference and U.S. President Donald Trump's connection with Russia in the 2016 election.

Interested in Russia Investigation?

Collins said in a statement Friday that she's concerned about comments made by Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump appointed after he fired Jeff Sessions this week.

The president has repeatedly said he doesn't watch CNN.

Even after he arrived at the Justice Department, Whitaker harbored frustration about the length of the special counsel probe and doubts about the scope of Mueller's authority, a person familiar with the matter said.

"A big complaint people have - Mueller was not Senate confirmed ... why didn't they get him confirmed?" the president wondered. Whitaker felt Mueller would focus on his job, regardless.

Trump told reporters he has not discussed the post with Christie, who he said was "a friend of mine" and "a good man". But, in another interview that year, Whitaker also said he felt there was a red line for the probe.

In any of those instances, a House investigation against the president could ensue with or without Mueller's report. Conway is the husband of the top White House aide Kellyanne Conway.

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