Washington, DC, United States (NewsBahn) – Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker chose not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation even though a top Justice Department ethics official advised him to step aside out of an “abundance of caution,” a senior official said Thursday.
Whitaker’s past criticism of the Russia investigation has raised questions about whether he can oversee it fairly. The ethics official said this week that a recusal was “a close call,” but suggested that Whitaker remove himself, even though he was not required to do so.
Whitaker decided not to take the advice.
The details of Whitaker’s decision to maintain oversight of the Russia investigation were provided by a Justice Department official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.The details show that although Whitaker was not required to step aside, the issue had raised questions about the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.
Members of Congress have expressed concerns about Whitaker’s past criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The probe is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.
The investigation had been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein until Trump ousted Jeff Sessions as attorney general last month and appointed Whitaker. The senior official said Rosenstein continues to have day-to-day oversight of the probe.
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