(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump on Friday defended the appointment of acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, countering critics who say he never went through the Senate process.
Speaking to reporters at the White House prior to leaving for Paris, France, Trump said Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not go through a Senate process, but Whitaker did as U.S. attorney for Iowa.
“Yeah, but neither has Mueller. Excuse me. You talk about the Senate process. Mueller is doing a report. He hasn’t gone through the Senate process, so you’re saying Whitaker hasn’t, but Whitaker has, because he was a really distinguished U.S. attorney in Iowa, and he was approved by everybody, because to be U.S. attorney that’s top of the line,” Trump said.
Trump also said Whitaker is “a highly respected man” and received high praise from former Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad, who is now serving as U.S. ambassador to China.
“The U.S. ambassador to China, as you know Terry Branstad, who used to be the governor of Iowa, he told me that what a great choice that is that he is one of the most respected people in
all of Iowa,” the president said.
Trump questioned why the Democrats didn’t get Mueller “Senate confirmed.”
“Why didn’t they get him Senate confirmed? He should have been Senate confirmed. No, but because of all of the conflicts, they didn’t want to bring him before the Senate, because he’s very conflicted. So because of those conflicts, they didn’t want to bring him before the Senate, but don’t tell me about Whitaker. Don’t tell me about Whitaker, because Mueller was not Senate confirmed, and Whitaker was,” he said.
Whitaker, who served as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, took over for Sessions when he resigned on Wednesday.
Trump said there’s “no rush” to nominate Sessions’ replacement, because the Senate confirmation process “takes a long time.”