Attorney General William Barr will not be recusing himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe, citing advisement from “senior career ethics officials,” according to the Department of Justice. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is expected to be leaving his post in the coming weeks, will continue to serve as a “liaison” to the investigation.
CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that there was no expectation Barr would recuse himself, but the official DOJ statement and unprompted reminder that Rosenstein is the liaison to Mueller further suggests the final report is expected before he leaves in mid-March.
Barr’s move to not recuse himself is likely to sit well with President Trump, who repeatedly and publicly chastised his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his recusal from the investigation. Before Sessions’ departure from the administration, Mr. Trump said Sessions “never took control” of the DOJ and suggested he could have fired Sessions several times over.
In response to those attacks, Sessions, in a rare move for the nation’s top cop, said at the time that he would “not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”
During his own confirmation hearing, Barr, who has been critical of the Mueller probe in the past, testified to lawmakers that he wasn’t inclined to recuse himself. He said he will ask Justice Department officials to review any cases in which he should recuse himself but won’t follow any recommendation if he “disagrees” with it.
Mueller’s final report into the FBI’s findings from the two-year long Russia probe is expected to drop within the coming weeks. It comes as House Democrats have moved to escalate their own investigations into the Trump White House and the president’s associates as it relates to possible claims of obstruction of justice and collusion.
Barr told lawmakers in January that while he wants to make as much of Mueller’s report public as is consistent with the special counsel regulation.