IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump says Whitaker is right about Russia probe and won't sit with Mueller for interview

"There is no collusion," Trump said. "He happened to be right. I mean, he said it."
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks after signing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Nov.16, 2018.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

President Donald Trump said acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is "right" about his criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and defended his appointment of Whitaker after forcing out Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month.

During an interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," Trump also seemed to shut down the idea of soon sitting with Mueller for an interview, among multiple other subjects.

On Whitaker, Trump said he "did not know he took views on the Mueller investigation," adding that those views didn't have "any effect" on the appointment. But, Trump said his views on the probe are "right."

"What do you do when a person’s right?" Trump said. "There is no collusion. He happened to be right. I mean, he said it. So if he said there is collusion, I’m supposed to be taking somebody that says there is? Because then I wouldn’t take him for two reasons, but the number one reason is the fact that he would have been wrong. If he said that there’s no collusion, he’s right."

Whitaker's appointment has been the subject much controversy, particularly as it relates to his role overseeing Mueller's probe. Top Democrats have called for his "immediate recusal," citing his past commentary critical of Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to influence the election.

On Friday, opponents of the appointment asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Whitaker is not legally qualified to serve as acting attorney general. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice offered an opinion defending the legality of Whitaker's appointment last week.

In an interview with "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an ally of the president, said he had "nothing against" Whitaker, adding, however, "I don’t know if he’s the best choice."

"There are a lot of choices out there," Graham added. The senator said he "would encourage the president to pick someone" to nominate as attorney general "very soon."

Speaking to Wallace, Trump said it's up to Whitaker to decide on curtailing Mueller's probe in any way.

"I think he’s very well aware politically," Trump said of Whitaker. "I think he’s astute politically. He’s a very smart person. A very respected person. He’s going to do what’s right. I really believe he’s going to do what’s right."

On Mueller, Trump all but shut down the idea that he would sit for an interview with the special counsel, adding that he will turn over his answers to written questions to the special counsel "at some point very soon."

Asked if there would be "no interview" with Mueller, Trump said he thought "we've wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably, we’re finished" after he submits the written answers.

"What are the odds?" Wallace asked of an interview. "One in a hundred?"

"I don’t do odds," Trump responded before Wallace cut in to point out that, "You ran a casino sir."

"You’re right, and very successfully actually," Trump said. "We gave very, very complete answers to a lot of questions that I shouldn’t have even been asked and I think that should solve the problem. I hope it solves the problem, if it doesn’t, you know, I’ll be told and we’ll make a decision at that time. But probably this is the end."

NBC News reported earlier Sunday that the president's legal team plans to submit answers to Mueller by Thanksgiving, according to a source familiar with the matter.

At the conclusion of the Fox News interview, Wallace asked Trump if he ever second-guesses any of his decisions as president.

"Yes, oh, all the time," Trump said.