President Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday that he would not stop Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker from curtailing the special counsel’s investigation if he chose to do so.
“If Whitaker decides in any way to limit or curtail the Mueller investigation, are you okay with that?” Trump was asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace.
“Look, it’s going to be up to him,” said Trump, who appointed Whitaker as temporary replacement to Jeff Sessions on Nov. 7. With oversight of the Mueller probe, Whitaker has the authorize to approve major investigative decisions, including the authorization of any subpoena compelling Trump to testify.
Whitaker will also review any report that Mueller submits at the conclusion of his investigation, which began on May 17, 2017.
Pressed by Wallace whether he was intervene to stop Whitaker from limiting the investigation, Trump said: “I would not get involved.”
He added: “And all these people that say that I’m going to end the investigation. They’ve been saying that now for, how long has this witch hunt gone on?”
“There was no collusion whatsoever. It’s a scam,” he continued.
Whitaker has come under fire for his heavy criticism of the Mueller investigation prior to joining the Justice Department. As the head of a conservative think tank, Whitaker gave numerous interviews in which he called the investigation a “witch hunt” and said that he had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Democrats have called for Whitaker’s recusal from overseeing the Mueller probe, citing his comments on the investigation as well as his past work with Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign official who has testified before Mueller’s grand jury.
Trump said that he was not aware of Whitaker’s position on the investigation before he was hired to serve as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ chief of staff.
“I did not know that. I did not know that he took views on the Mueller investigation as such,” Trump told Wallace, adding that, “if he said that there is no collusion, he’s right.”
“I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably: We’re finished.”
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