White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended on Sunday President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying that his previous criticisms of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was not something that should disqualify him and arguing that there is no reason to shut down the probe.
“If you’re talking about Matt Whitaker’s statements as a private citizen a year and a half ago when the Mueller investigation first started, what he has said on cable TV, I don’t think that disqualifies somebody from being the chief law enforcement officer at the Department of Justice, which is an executive function,” Conway said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
There has been concern among Democratic lawmakers and critics of President Trump over Whitaker’s previous statements as a commentator on CNN and other news networks about cutting Mueller’s budget as a way to end the probe, that investigating Trump’s finances was a “red line” and that there was “no collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.
During her interview, Conway said it would be a “mistake” to shut down the Mueller probe at this point.
“It would be a mistake to try to shut down the Mueller investigation in the way that you describe it because we’ve been so compliant and everything that was promised,” she said.
Conway also defended the president for the mixed comments he has made over knowing Whitaker. On Friday, the president said he did not know the new acting attorney general, but last month on “Fox and Friends” he said that he did.
“The president does know Matt Whitaker,” Conway said, adding that Trump has known Whitaker in his role as chief of staff to the attorney general.
She added: “the president’s point is it’s not like he is putting a friend in there that he has known his entire life. He is putting somebody who has been working at the Department of Justice for 13 months now, in a very senior position as chief of staff to Attorney General Sessions. And the president has dealt with Matt Whitaker in many different situations in the White House.”
In regards to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeting out a speeded-up video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a press conference with President Trump, Conway refused to admit that the video was “altered” and compared it to sport’s coverage.
“That’s not altered, that’s sped up,” she said. “They do it all the time in sports to see if there’s actually a first down or touchdown.”