Before departing for Paris on Friday, President Donald Trump made a point of insisting he wasn’t familiar with newly appointed acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.
That was a lie.
Asked by ABC’s Jon Karl about Whitaker’s past criticisms of the Mueller investigation and calls for his recusal, Trump feigned ignorance.
“Well, Matt Whitaker — I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Trump said. “Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions, and he was always extremely highly well thought of, and he still is, but I didn’t know Matt Whitaker.”
Watch the video below, via ABC News:
Pres. Trump dismisses criticism of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
"I don't know Matt Whitaker," Trump tells @jonkarl. "He was very, very highly thought of…This only comes up because anybody that works for me, they do a number on them." https://t.co/n0KJ4JPIqw pic.twitter.com/puhYlmClug
— ABC News (@ABC) November 9, 2018
“He worked for Attorney General Sessions,” Trump added. “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.”
Despite being a president who frequently exhibits a cavalier attitude towards the truth, it’s rare for Trump to be so clearly caught in a lie. But Trump’s claim to not know Whitaker has already been directly contradicted — by Trump himself.
Just one month earlier, when asked by the hosts of “Fox & Friends” about a Washington Post story reporting that Whitaker was under consideration to replace Sessions, Trump took a different stance on his familiarity with the now-acting attorney general.
“Well I never talk about that, but I can tell you Matt Whitaker is a great guy,” Trump told Fox’s Steve Doocy in October. “I mean, I know Matt Whitaker. But I never talk about conversations that I had.”
Watch the video below:
Trump dismissed the report on replacing Sessions with Whitaker at the time, saying that he wanted to get through the midterm elections. And just one day after those elections, Trump fired Sessions and bypassed the traditional line of succession at the Department of Justice, through the Federal Vacanices Reform Act, to name Whitaker to the acting position over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.