Trump downplays ties to acting AG handpicked by White House

On Friday, Trump told reporters, "I don't know" Matt Whitaker. Yet in an interview with Fox News last month, the President explicitly said, "I know Matt Whitaker." He added that Whitaker is "a great guy."

Posted: Nov 11, 2018 12:39 AM
Updated: Nov 11, 2018 12:39 AM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans believe that Matthew Whitaker will only stay as acting attorney general for a short time, flatly dismissing suggestions that he would interfere with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation while also rejecting calls for new legislation to protect the special counsel.

McConnell told Kentucky reporters Friday that "I don't have any advice to give the administration on" whether Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, as Democrats have been demanding.

"All the Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President. He's decided to make a change," McConnell said. "I think this will be an interim, a very interim AG. I expect we'll get a new nominee pretty quickly for the job."

The Republican leader also dismissed demands by Democrats and some Republicans to quickly pass legislation approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee that would make it harder to fire the special counsel.

"Like I've said before, it's not necessary. The Mueller investigation's not under threat," McConnell said. "The President said repeatedly he's not going to dismiss the Mueller investigation. He's said repeatedly it's going to be allowed to finish. That also happens to be my view."

Asked why he was so confident, McConnell said: "The President's certainly expressed his point of view about how he feels about the investigation, but as you can imagine we speak frequently. There's never been any indication that he wants to dismiss Mueller or the investigation. It's going to be allowed to finish."

McConnell's comments reflect how Senate Republicans have ignored -- or dismissed -- the growing alarm among Democrats that Whitaker was named to the post with the express purpose of interfering with the Mueller investigation. Top Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who may chair the committee in the next Congress, both have praised the Whitaker appointment. Grassley and Whitaker had a brief courtesy call on Thursday, an aide said.

Republicans do expect that Trump will nominate someone else to the post and that confirmation hearings would take place next year when the GOP is expected to have a slightly larger majority in the Senate. But Republican sources say that the timing of the nomination may be complicated by the yet-to-be called Senate races in Arizona and Florida. The outcome of those races would impact the size of the GOP majority and would give an indication of how much flexibility Trump has in choosing a nominee who may endure a bruising confirmation process.

Graham, who met with Trump on Thursday, told a local South Carolina TV station that Whitaker would keep the job "on an interim basis." He said Trump was considering a long list of potential candidates, including outgoing Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, whom the senator is "in the mix."

On the Mueller investigation, Graham told WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina: "You need not worry he'll be allowed to finish the job."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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Fall has started off exactly as you would have anticipated and it looks like we should have a number of dry days still ahead, but this isn’t a permanent switch, because heat is pegged to return.
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