Toobin: Acting Attorney General Whitaker is 'obscure' and 'unqualified'
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CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Thursday questioned the qualifications of President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE's pick for acting attorney general, arguing that he was chosen largely because of his past comments about special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction MORE.

On "New Day," Toobin exchanged thoughts with former independent counsel Kenneth Starr about Trump's decision to appoint Matthew Whitaker, chief of staff to Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage House gears up for Mueller testimony Trump's no racist — he's an equal opportunity offender MORE, as head of the Justice Department on a temporary basis. Sessions resigned Wednesday as attorney general at Trump's request.

"You know the Department of Justice. You know the kind of people who are named attorney general of the United States -- senators, judges," Toobin said. "What about naming someone, frankly, this obscure and this unqualified just because he’s been critical of the Mueller investigation. What do you think about that choice?"


Starr called Toobin's characterization "a little bit unfair," while noting that Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinKey numbers to know for Mueller's testimony 10 questions for Robert Mueller What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much MORE would have been a "natural" choice to replace Sessions.

"He’s not unqualified," Starr said of Whitaker. "Is he the most qualified? We can debate that, but he’s not been taken off the street."

Whitaker has come under scrutiny in the wake of his appointment for opinion pieces he wrote in The Hill and CNN advocating for curbing the scope of the Russia investigation, and suggesting stifling its funding.

Democrats have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Sessions was effectively fired on Wednesday, submitting a resignation letter at Trump's request. His ouster followed months of public ridicule by the president, who regularly lamented Sessions's decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.