Rosenstein calls Whitaker 'superb' choice for acting AG: report

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinDem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself How Trump can pull off ultimate trick to make Mueller disappear Dems race to protect Mueller probe MORE reportedly offered strong praise for the new interim head of the Justice Department on Friday, calling acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker a "superb" choice to take the reins from Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself Christie: Trump has not asked me to be attorney general Pelosi: 'What Mueller might not think is indictable could be impeachable' MORE.

ABC News reports that Rosenstein commented on the transition at a swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Attorney Zach Terwilliger on Friday, calling Whitaker a "superb choice for attorney general" who "certainly understands the work, understands the priorities of the department.”

When asked about the future of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian election interference, Rosenstein reportedly declined to answer questions and walked away.

Whitaker assumed the position of acting attorney general upon Sessions's ouster Wednesday from the Department of Justice (DOJ) a day after Democrats took control of the House in Tuesday's midterm elections.


Sessions, a frequent target of criticism and insults from President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE had been rumored to be planning an exit from DOJ for months, but the timing of Wednesday's announcement caught many in Washington off-guard.

His replacement has come under scrutiny for his past comments about Mueller's probe, as well as his stance on the judiciary and the Supreme Court.

Trump defended his selection earlier Friday while also claiming not to know Whitaker personally, despite having referred to him in the past as a "great guy."

"I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about it. I don't know Matt Whitaker," Trump told reporters at the White House before heading to France.