Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Mueller probe 'close to being completed' - acting AG Whitaker

Robert Mueller investigation is 'close to being completed,' acting attorney general says Russia probe 'close to being completed' - US official
Leonard Rios | 30 January, 2019, 03:40

"I have been fully briefed on the investigation", Whitaker, who has authority over Mueller's probe, said during a news conference Monday. Dianne Feinstein of California about how he would handle Mueller's probe.

The special counsel's Russian Federation probe is "close to being completed", the acting attorney general said on Monday in the first official sign that the investigation may be wrapping up.

Democrats pressed Barr for written, on the record, answers about what he'll be willing to share about the probe with Congress and the public.

Trump elevated Whitaker to the post after firing Jeff Sessions, who handed off oversight of the Mueller investigation to the department's No. 2 official after it emerged that he had not revealed the extent of his own contacts with Russian Federation during the election. He said he and Pence have been acquaintances since the spring of 2017 and that Mueller's investigation has been a topic of their "occasional conversations". His nomination is likely to be voted out of the Judiciary Committee next week, setting up a confirmation vote on the Senate floor before Presidents' Day on February 18. Whitaker didn't elaborate, but a Justice Department official said later he sought to convey that he'd follow department regulations regarding Mueller's closing documents.

"I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible", he said.

Democrats have said they're concerned that Whitaker, who criticized Mueller's investigation before he joined the Justice Department, may try to suppress some of his findings or hamper the probe.

FILE PHOTO: William Barr testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general of the United States on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2019.

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There has also been an ongoing question about how much of Mueller's probe will be made public.

Whitehouse also noted that Barr could determine that an assertion of executive privilege by the White House could be consistent with the law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to decide Tuesday on whether to send his nomination to the full Senate floor for a vote. If the special counsel were fired or resigned, a public report would have to be released in two weeks.

The delay, which is not unusual, is not expected to affect Barr's confirmation, the Post reported. He doesn't need Democratic votes to win Senate confirmation, although he may get some, and there's no sign that any Republicans are wavering on backing him.

According to Justice Department regulations, Mueller has to provide a report to the attorney general at the conclusion of his investigation laying out his prosecution decisions.

Some senators have expressed concern that Trump might fire Mueller for the investigation that the president has repeatedly labeled a "witch hunt".

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