Trump on new acting AG: I dont know Matt Whitaker

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Chuck Schumer Timing of Sessions firing'suspect

The President's comments are at odds with the relationship Trump has forged with Whitaker in recent months, even as his opinion of Sessions continued to sour.

Organizers claimed similar events were held in hundreds of places across the country.

Sessions' duties will be temporarily assumed not by Rosenstein, who would seem the obvious choice, but by Matthew G. Whitaker, who has been serving as Sessions' chief of staff. Justice Department officials indicated that Whitaker also would take over supervision of Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Whitaker used Twitter to weigh in on a number of issues related to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation that would typically require recusal under Justice Department rules. "I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about" the Russian Federation investigation, Trump told reporters this morning, "I don't know Matt Whitaker". He now has a concrete enemy in Congress to do battle with, and he gets to make the Mueller investigation a partisan fight between him and Congressional Democrats, which is where he thrives. A Justice Department spokeswoman told the newspaper that Whitaker was not aware of any fraudulent conduct.

Whitaker wrote an op-ed article saying Mueller would be straying outside his mandate if he investigated Trump family finances.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Friday said she wants the Senate to debate placing restrictions on Trump's ability to remove Mueller.

In an October 11 interview with Fox News, Trump gave the impression that he knew Matt Whitaker.

Whitaker, a former USA attorney from Iowa who twice ran unsuccessfully for statewide office and founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists, once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe.

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Speaking to reporters, President Trump said, "I don't know Matt Whitaker".

"Rosenstein is much, much, much more subject to recusal than Whitaker", Dershowitz told Fox News' "America's Newsroom".

"I think if you were to ask anyone with DOJ experience they would say 'Huh?" Although a Florida ethics panel cleared Bondi of wrongdoing previous year, her acceptance of the donation came under scrutiny because her office was at the time investigating Trump University for alleged fraud. "He's said repeatedly it's going to be allowed to finish".

As acting attorney general, Whitaker has assumed oversight of the Mueller investigation. Trump argues that since Whitaker was confirmed 14 years ago as the US attorney for southern Iowa, he doesn't need Senate confirmation. That episode appears to have damaged Trump's approval ratings and certainly damaged his standing in Washington, and brought about Mueller's appointment as special counsel.

In a one-paragraph order, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit told Mueller's team it has until November 19 to turn in supplemental briefs explaining "what, if any, effect" Sessions' exit Wednesday has on the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation. Mueller's team also has been pressing for an interview with Trump.

In the president's orbit, there remains some concern about his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., though there are no outward indications that charges are imminent, according to a Republican close to the White House not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

"I'm extremely troubled that a change may have been made here to stop an investigation, which by all accounts is nearly complete", he said.

Flake, R-Ariz., said he and Coons, D-Del., will address the bill next week when the Senate convenes.