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

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinJeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March 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 SessionsJeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump 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.

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Sessions, a frequent target of criticism and insults from President TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Missouri Gov. declares state of emergency amid severe flooding Swalwell on Hicks testimony: 'She's going to have to tell us who she lied for' in Trump admin 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.