New acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker once called the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian election interference “ridiculous” and “a little fishy,” CNN reported.
Donald Trump put Whitaker in the job temporarily after firing Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation.
Whitaker, formerly Sessions’ chief of staff, made the comments on the radio in 2017 before his appointment at the justice department, according to CNN.
“For whatever reason, Rod Rosenstein determined that the Department of Justice couldn’t handle this in their ordinary course of work, which I think was ridiculous,” he said on the “Rose Unplugged” radio show.
“I think it smells a little fishy, but I just hope it doesn’t turn into a fishing expedition, because I will be one of them ones jumping up and down making sure the limitations on this investigation continue because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
In another clip uncovered by CNN, Whitaker said the Mueller probe would be “invalid,” “fraudulent,” and “dangerous to the public” if it expanded beyond Russian election interference to look at Trump’s finances.
And in another appearance, Whitaker said on the “Sean Hannity Show” that Trump’s alleged request that FBI director James Comey not investigate former national security adviser Michael Flynn did not amount to obstruction of justice.
“That doesn’t rise to the level of obstruction of justice and it doesn’t sound to me, based on what’s been reported, that Jim Comey, as he sat there, believed that the President was telling him to stop the investigation,” he said.
“As you know in the law and in these types of situations, the words and whatever the president did or didn’t say is going to be very important. And, if all he did was make a mere suggestion and not an outright command, I don’t think that rises to the level of obstruction of justice.”