Tuesday, March 5, 2019

That Whole Saturday Night Massacre Thing, Con't

Attorney General William Barr said he won’t recuse himself from being in charge of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a major development affecting the fate of the politically charged probe into President Donald Trump.

“Following General Barr’s confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that General Barr should not recuse himself from the special counsel’s investigation. Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse,” Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

Kupec confirmed that the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who intends to leave the department in the coming weeks, continues to be the primary liaison between the special counsel and Barr.

The question of whether Barr, who was confirmed as attorney general last month, should oversee Mueller has become a political flashpoint.

Under Justice Department regulations, the attorney general has sole authority over Mueller and has the power to decide how much of Mueller’s final report is provided to Congress and made public. With Mueller believed to be close to completing his work, Democrats in Congress are vowing to force the release of his report and the evidence underlying it.

The president repeatedly attacked and ridiculed his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself based on his role in Trump’s campaign. Trump removed Sessions in November and named Matthew Whitaker acting attorney general.

And speaking of Matt Whitaker...

Whitaker, who had criticized Mueller’s investigation before joining the Justice Department, decided not to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation in December, even though a senior department ethics official said a formal review would likely recommend a recusal.

Whitaker never asked for a formal ethics recommendation. He and a small group of advisers decided there was no precedent for him to recuse under these circumstances. Whitaker left the Justice Department on March 2.

Wait, what?

Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker left his position at the Justice Department on Saturday, a department spokeswoman said.

Whitaker had been serving as a senior counselor at the Justice Department since Attorney General William Barr was sworn in last month.

His next career move is unknown, but Whitaker has told friends that he will remain in Washington because there are "many opportunities here," according to sources who have spoken with him in recent days.

Nothing about either of these moves smells right.

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