"Well, Matt Whitaker, I don't know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions and he was always extremely, highly thought of and he still is but I didn't know Matt Whitaker. He worked for attorney general Sessions. 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. But Matt Whitaker is a very smart man. He is a very respected man in the law enforcement community, very respected at the top of the line and, actually, the choice was greeted with raves initially and it still is in some circles. You know it's a shame that no matter who I put in, they go after him. It's very, very sad, I have to say. But he's acting. I think he'll do a very good job and we'll see what happens, but I will say this, Matt Whitaker a very highly respected man and you didn't have any problems with Matt Whitaker when he worked for Jeff Sessions. He's respected by law enforcement. He's a very strong law enforcement personality and person."
President Donald Trump is calling acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker "a very highly respected man" as he faces criticism about his appointment to replace Jeff Sessions.
Trump said Friday "I don't know Matt Whitaker" and said he didn't speak with Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
Whitaker has made public comments critical of Mueller's investigation, and critics have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from oversight of the inquiry, which under Sessions was overseen by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein (ROH'-zen-styn).
Trump says of the scrutiny Whitaker is facing: "It's a shame that no matter who I put in they go after," adding, "You didn't have any problems with Matt Whitaker when he worked for Jeff Sessions."
Whitaker was the Justice Department chief of staff before Trump made him Sessions' interim replacement.