President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE's pick for acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, declared in a 2017 interview that there was "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Daily Beast reported that Whitaker appeared on the Wilkow Majority Show, a syndicated conservative radio program, a short time after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"The truth is there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign," Whitaker said in an interview published to YouTube on June 21, 2017. "There was interference by the Russians into the election, but that was not collusion with the campaign. That’s where the left seems to be just combining those two issues."
"The last thing they want right now is for the truth to come out, and the fact that there’s not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign had any illegal or even improper relations with the Russians. It’s that simple," he added.
Whitaker was responding to the status of a House Intelligence Committee Investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion.
The Daily Beast reported that Whitaker was commenting in his capacity as the executive director of the conservative watchdog group, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).
Whitaker was named acting attorney general on Wednesday after Trump ousted Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE from the role. Whitaker will now be tasked with overseeing the Mueller investigation, and reportedly does not intend to recuse himself.
Whitaker has come under scrutiny since his appointment for opinion pieces he wrote for The Hill and CNN advocating for curbing the scope of the Mueller investigation, and suggesting stifling its funding.
Trump has long railed against the Mueller investigation, repeatedly declaring on Twitter and to reporters that there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.
Mueller has to date obtained guilty pleas from four former Trump associates, as well as more than 20 Russians as part of his investigation.