President Trump: "What a stupid question that is." pic.twitter.com/W0xR292vfC
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 9, 2018
President Donald Trump was asked a question on Friday about why he decided to replace Jeff Sessions with Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General of the United States, and he said it was “a stupid question.”
CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip asked the following question: “Do you want acting AG Matt Whitaker to rein in Robert Mueller?” The president replied, “What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot, and you ask a lot of stupid questions.”
In one sense it’s sort of understandable for Trump to respond this way. Did anyone really think he was going to say, “Yes. I want Whitaker to put an end to the Mueller investigation”? Nonetheless, his response was telling. He chose to use insults when he could have said no. Instead, he dodged the question by ridiculing the questioner.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker, Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions,” he said Friday. “He was very, very highly thought of, and still is highly thought of.”
Actually, said Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey, Trump knows Whitaker and knows he’s a skeptic of the Mueller probe.
Trump, contra what he’s saying right now, does know Whitaker. Many meetings in Oval. One reason he picked him was because he liked him so much, per several Trump aides. (And saw him as skeptical of Mueller probe.)
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 9, 2018
That aside, does anyone really believe Trump had no idea that Whitaker wrote column for CNN in August 2017, in which Whitaker wondered if the Mueller probe has gone too far?
Does anyone really believe that Whitaker’s comments about the Hillary Clinton email investigation escaped Trump’s attention? Fired FBI Director James Comey famously said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would charge Clinton. Whitaker disagreed: “As a former U.S. attorney, I believed there was a strong case to bring against her and she should be extremely grateful that has not happened.”
Does anyone really believe that Trump didn’t see Whitaker on CNN defending the 2016 Trump Tower meeting? This was a meeting that involved the president’s own son, Donald Trump Jr., who seems increasingly concerned that he may be indicted for making false statements about said meeting.
Here's the new acting Attorney General in July 2017 defending Don Jr.'s decision to take the Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton: "You would always take that meeting."(via CNN) pic.twitter.com/qFAhnhSSJK
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 7, 2018
Does President Trump really believe that no one knows he thinks the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt,” that it never should have happened in the first place, that it should have been “wrapped up” months ago, and that everyone involved in it is “conflicted”? Does he believe no one noticed when he publicly trashed Jeff Sessions time and time again for recusing himself from the investigation?
Abby Phillip’s question wasn’t “stupid,” but the president’s response certainly was.
[Image via ABC News screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.