Trump’s new acting attorney general, who has publicly railed against Mueller, reportedly will not recuse himself from the Russia probe


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Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, does not plan to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Whitaker would also reportedly block Mueller from issuing a subpoena for President Donald Trump to testify in the Mueller probe.

Whitaker, a former US attorney from the Southern District of Iowa, is viewed by many as a staunch Trump loyalist, and appears to share the White House’s criticisms of Mueller and the Russia investigation.

Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, reportedly does not plan to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation and would not approve a request from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to subpoena President Donald Trump for an interview.

According to The Washington Post, ethics officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) will likely examine Whitaker’s past work and commentary to gauge whether he has any financial or personal conflicts that could interfere with his oversight of the Russia probe. Based on their review, ethics officials would make a recommendation, but Whitaker would not be legally required to follow it.

Whitaker, a former US attorney from the Southern District of Iowa, is viewed by many as a staunch Trump loyalist.

The New York Times reported in September that the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, once described Whitaker as the West Wing’s “eyes and ears” in the DOJ, which is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 election in his favor.

Whitaker appears to share the White House’s skepticism of Mueller and the Russia investigation. Shortly before he was hired as Sessions’ chief of staff last year, Whitaker wrote in an op-ed article for CNN that Mueller had “come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing.”

Whitaker added that his concerns stemmed from reports that the special counsel was investigating the Trump Organization’s financial records. Mueller’s scrutiny of Trump’s finances “falls completely outside of the realm” of his appointment, Whitaker wrote.

But in a letter outlining the scope of Mueller’s appointment last year, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave Mueller broad authority to not only investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated” with Trump’s campaign, but examine “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Rosenstein also gave Mueller the power to investigate “any other matters within the scope” of the law outlining a special counsel’s jurisdiction, including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.

Subpoena wars

Meanwhile, where a presidential subpoena is concerned, if Whitaker were to reject Mueller’s request for one, it could dramatically alter his ability to get to the bottom of several investigative threads surrounding Trump.

Mueller’s team has been wrangling with Trump’s lawyers for almost a year over the terms of a presidential interview. Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly blocked Mueller’s requests, but the two sides agreed to a first round of questions to which Trump’s lawyers would provide written answers to inquiries about collusion, but not about …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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