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Whitaker to Consult with JD on Recusal 11/13 06:18

   Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will consult with Justice Department 
ethics officials about "matters that may warrant recusal" amid pressure from 
Democrats to step aside from overseeing the special counsel's investigation 
into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will consult with 
Justice Department ethics officials about "matters that may warrant recusal" 
amid pressure from Democrats to step aside from overseeing the special 
counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential 
election.

   Whitaker is "fully committed to following all appropriate processes and 
procedures," including consulting with senior ethics officials about his 
"oversight responsibilities and matter that may warrant recusal," Justice 
Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday.

   Since his appointment last week, Whitaker has faced mounting pressure to 
step aside from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, due 
to critical comments Whitaker made about the investigation before joining the 
Justice Department last year.

   In an interview with CNN in July 2017, Whitaker suggested the Mueller probe 
could be starved of its resources by cutting the budget "so low that his 
investigation grinds to almost a halt."

   He also penned an op-ed last year that said Mueller would be straying 
outside his mandate if he investigated Trump family finances. In an interview 
with a talk-radio host, Whitaker maintained there was no evidence of collusion 
between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

   Whitaker, a Republican Party loyalist and chief of staff to just-ousted 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was elevated last week after Trump forced 
Sessions out. Mueller's investigation had been overseen by Deputy Attorney 
General Rod Rosenstein until Sessions' ouster.

   The Senate's top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, called for Whitaker to step 
aside from overseeing Mueller's investigation and said Democrats would seek to 
tie a measure protecting Mueller to must-pass legislation if Whitaker did not 
recuse himself.

   Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats sent a 
letter Sunday to Lee Lofthus, an assistant attorney general and the 
department's chief ethics officer, asking whether he had advised Whitaker to 
recuse himself.


(KA)

 
 
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