Whitaker rejected advice to recuse from Russian Federation probe

Acting Attorney General Whitaker Won't Recuse Himself From Mueller Inquiry

His appointment, immediately following Trump's ouster of Jeff Sessions as attorney general in November, is under challenge in several court cases contending that the president violated the constitution by installing Whitaker without Senate confirmation.

It said senior Justice Department ethics officials, including a top career ethics official in the deputy attorney general's office, had briefed Whitaker on ethics rules and guidelines.

"It seems very clear that the only reason that Matt Whitaker was ever appointed to this role was specifically to oversee the Mueller investigation", Mueller biographer Garrett Graff said in a CNN interview.

US President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer will be sentenced on Wednesday for his role in the payment of hush money to women who said they had affairs with Trump and for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russian Federation that was discussed during the 2016 election campaign.

President Donald Trump has reportedly lashed out at acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker at least twice in the past few weeks for letting federal prosecutors file charges that make him bad. Whitaker accepted that-after members of his own team met with the senior ethics official in question and the ethics official said he would recommend recusal if asked to tender a formal ethics opinion.

Read the full report from CNN here.

The acting attorney general wasn't required to recuse, the official concluded, but said it was a "close call" and advised him to do so. But the official did say Whitaker's past comments about the special counsel's investigation could raise reasonable questions about his impartiality.

Late Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Steven Boyd sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to lay out the ethics consultation.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and Moscow has said there was no interference.

Trump has already picked William Barr to take on the job but his nomination needs to be approved by the Senate.

The question of whether an attorney general can or should recuse from a particular criminal investigation has always been politically fraught, and decisions in both directions have had far-reaching ramifications.

Barr previously wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled, "Trump made the right call on Comey", criticizing the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director for flouting longstanding Justice Department protocols when he announced in July 2016 that he wouldn't recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified info during her time as secretary of state, usurping the role of the attorney general at the time. The official said Barr had "no non-public information about the Special Counsel's investigation when preparing the memorandum (and still has none)", which he wrote as a "former official" when he was a law firm partner and private citizen. Lynch opted instead to accept the FBI's recommendation on whether to bring charges.

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