()Prent Donald sought to distance himself from the Justice Deptment he just named as ing general in the face of mounting criticism about the legality and propriety of his ointment.

The Prent’s comments e at odds with the has forged with Whitaker in recent months, even as his of Sessions continued to sour. Whitaker has been at the dozens of s, including in meetings with , and the two have spoken by phone on several occasions, including on the day that Deputy General Rod Rosenstein was epected to be fi.
And in an October 11 inter on s, made cle he did, in f, k Whitaker well.
    “I can tell Whitaker’s a . I k Whitaker,” he sd.
    Whitaker was not hi as Sessions’ of staff by virtue of any pre-eisting with Sessions, but instead because s beved Whitaker’s loyalties would at the and not with the beleague general, sources sd.
    And over the last ye, Whitaker has t about his growing with . The Prent k that he had played footb and the t, brawny former US the im liked, according to famili with their , f more than the diminutive Sessions, whom mocked.
    “He s like the kind of who sits at the of a table,” a source famili with the er sd of Whitaker.

    Questions ise

    Even as he clmed on Friday not to k Whitaker, it was cle mntned an affinity for him, prsing his qualifications for as he insisted Whitaker was being unfrly maligned.
    Some legal schols — including George Conway, the husband of or — sd they Whitaker’s ointment is unconstitutional because he is not a -confirmed . have slammed ’s decision to oint Whitaker as ing general over Deputy General Rod Rosenstein because the move puts Whitaker in chge of special ’s probe, which Whitaker had been ly critical of.
    insisted Friday that he had not spoken with Whitaker about the Mueller .
    “I didn’t speak to Whitaker about it. I don’t k Whitaker,” sd.
    The Prent’s move to distance himself from Whitaker is a famili ref has used when associates of his have become embroiled in controversy.
    When federal prosecutors tgeted his former , insisted handled only a “, frion” of his legal . Before that, he clmed that his indicted former campgn chrman ed for him for “a very short period of .” And shortly before ousting his Bannon, who also helmed his campgn, mntned Bannon “came on very late.”
    Still, the Prent prsed Whitaker as “very highly of” and sd that Whitaker is only taking because “anybody that s for me, they do a number on him.”
    Whitaker is a very smt man, he is a very respected man in the enforcement , top of the line,” sd. “He’s ing, I think he’ll do a very good job and we’ll see what hens.”
    In an to Deptment of Justice staff on Friday, Whitaker vowed to “a fr Deptment with the highest ethical standds, that uphs the rule of , and seeks justice for ns.”

    Sense of concern

    George Conway

      Whitaker linked to defunct ‘scam’

    ’s comments came as a growing sense of concern developed in the over the negative reion to Whitaker being ped as the ing enforcement . Several senior s sd they were surprised by the and beve it could potentiy jeopdize his s to remn in the post if it continues to dominate lines.
    It was not widely kn among the staff that he had commented repeatedly on the special ’s in inters and on — an irony given that Whitaker’s eances ed him land his job at the Justice Deptment and close to encourd Whitaker to keep up his eances to draw ’s attention.
    Whitaker was ped by the to serve as Sessions’ of staff in September 2017, with sources describing then- Don McGahn as the person behind the hiring.
    McGahn was drawn to Whitaker because he had a stalwt reputation in right-wing legal circles and because the wanted someone who was competent, could Sessions and could “keep on the rls” at the Justice Deptment.
    Leond Leo, the eecutive vice prent of the Federa Society, sd he recommended Whitaker for that post.
    “I recommended him and was very supportive of him for of staff for very specific s,” Leo t . “Jeff Sessions needed a reliable , a strong manr, and someone who had cibility who had previously served the deptment. Whitaker was a very good former US and is a very good manr. He’s a no-nonsense, get-it-done kind of .”
    Whitaker and of staff John Kelly developed a close too. Kelly would often c Whitaker to convey when was unhy with something at the Justice Deptment or with Sessions in pticul, and an source sd Kelly and Whitaker were “cut from the same cloth.”
    Whitaker also ed to forge a with the Prent’s daughter Ivanka and son-in- Ja Kushner during trips to the , understanding they were key to up in ’s eyes.
      Teriger III, a former deputy general who is a Sessions y and famili with his senior staff, described Whitaker as a “good yer” with “good political skills and instincts” and sd he had grown close to the .
      Teriger sd Whitaker’s position had put him in cont with the “w he’s held in pretty high regd.”

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