Trump claims he doesn’t know his own pick for acting Attorney General — and has never discussed the Russia investigation with him

He wouldn’t know him from a hole in the wall

President Trump claims he doesn’t know his own pick for acting Attorney General — and has never discussed the Russia investigation he’ll be overseeing with him.

Trump said Friday that Matthew Whitaker was “highly thought of” but stressed he does not know him “personally.”

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” the President said, adding that he didn’t speak with Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference that has resulted in four Trump associates taking plea deals.

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Iowa Republican senatorial candidate former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker looks on before a live televised debate at Iowa Public Television studios, Thursday, April 24, 2014, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
UNITED STATES - July 23: Matt Whitaker (R) Iowa is interviewed at Roll Call office in Washington, D.C. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
Iowa Republican senatorial candidates, retired CEO Mark Jacobs, left, and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, talk after a live televised debate at KCCI-TV studios, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa Republican senatorial candidate, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, looks on before a live televised debate at KCCI-TV studios, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this April 11, 2014, file photo, Iowa Senate candidate Matt Whitaker speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A GOP TV spot comparing castrating hogs to cutting spending, and Democrat Bruce Braley’s comment that lawyers like him are better suited to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee than “an Iowa farmer” like U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, have raised the Iowa’s open Senate seat on the GOP’s list of winnable races in the 2014 elections. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Iowa Republican Matt Whitaker officially announces his plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 during a news conference, Monday, June 3, 2013, in Ankeny, Iowa. The former U.S. attorney said that he will seek the seat being vacated by retiring five-term Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this April 11, 2014, file photo, Iowa Senate candidate Matt Whitaker speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A GOP TV spot comparing castrating hogs to cutting spending, and Democrat Bruce Braley’s comment that lawyers like him are better suited to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee than “an Iowa farmer” like U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, have raised the Iowa’s open Senate seat on the GOP’s list of winnable races in the 2014 elections. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
UNITED STATES - July 23: Matt Whitaker (R) Iowa is interviewed at Roll Call office in Washington, D.C. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
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Whitaker has publicly criticized Mueller’s investigation, echoing the President in calling it a “witch hunt.”

Critics have called on him to recuse himself from oversight of the inquiry, which under Sessions was overseen by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

“It’s a shame that no matter who I put in they go after,” Trump said, adding, “You didn’t have any problems with Matt Whitaker when he worked for Jeff Sessions.”

Whitaker served as Sessions’ chief-of-staff for the past year.

Trump also pushed back on the idea that Whitaker, who formerly served as a former U.S. district attorney in Iowa, is ineligible to serve as attorney general because he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate.

The President argued Mueller wasn’t Senate confirmed, “so don’t talk to me about Whitaker.”

The special counsel's office is not subject to Senate confirmation, while the attorney general is. Mueller was also confirmed by the Senate as FBI director in 2001.

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