Trump, who has frequently dismissed that probe as a "witch hunt", feigned ignorance of Whitaker's background. "Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions". And he was always extremely highly thought of and he still is. "But I didn't know Matt Whitaker".
But a flurry of activity during his quiet period, including weeks of grand jury testimony about Trump confidant Roger Stone and negotiations over an interview with the president, hinted at public developments ahead as investigators move closer to addressing key questions underpinning the special counsel inquiry: Did Trump illegally obstruct the investigation?
"Matt Whitaker is a great guy".
Whitaker's argument, a common one among Trump supporters, completely misses the point of what obstruction of justice is.
Sessions obliged, and by Wednesday morning he was gone. "Seeing what's happening now, I understand that and having nearly three fourths of a semester of knowledge of the law, I realize I've got to fight for it".
"We care about our democracy", Robinson said.
Sessions' dismissal came one day after the midterm votes were tallied.
In theory, Whitaker could order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation or end it altogether.
"I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about it", Trump said of the Russian Federation probe.
He has, for instance, talked down the Mueller investigation on a number of TV talk shows.
He could also refuse to sign off on a subpoena of Trump if the president refuses to voluntarily speak to investigators. "You'd have absolutely nobody left".
The attorneys general also said Muller must have the "full authority to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any violations of federal law". Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democratic Sen. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been overseeing it because of Sessions's recusal.
McConnell, who sets the Senate's agenda, reiterated that legislation to protect Mueller from firing is unnecessary. "Trump's attempt to be his own judge and jury is inconsistent with the rule of law and democracy". Trump's advisers are privately expressing worries that the special counsel, who's been out of the news for the past month, has been stealthily compiling information and could soon issue new indictments or a damning final report.
But if Mueller is still gathering evidence on other matters such as Trump's business relations with Russians going back before the 2016 election, Whitaker may be able to stifle that, ruling it out of the realm of the original mandate.
Trump added that Whitaker was confirmed for a previous job - as the U.S. Attorney in Iowa.
An invite for the nationwide "Nobody Is Above the Law" rallies, which garnered over 21,000 RSVPs in NY, declared that "Donald Trump just crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up". "And he was approved by everybody".
But Heide Moore, of Cottonwood, said she wasn't surprised at the turnout. He later ran unsuccessfully for Senate and headed a conservative watchdog group. He called Mr. Whitaker "a very good person and a talented person".