Trump's new attorney general William Barr won't recuse himself in Mueller probe

Attorney General William Barr speaks to the National Association of Attorneys General in the White House

Attorney General William Barr speaks to the National Association of Attorneys General in the White House

Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, despite having written a 19-page memo stating he does not believe President Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice for firing FBI Director Jim Comey.

"Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse", she added.

Critics questioned Barr's ability to be in charge of Mueller because he sent an unsolicited memo to White House lawyers past year criticising the special counsel for looking into Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey as possible obstruction of justice.

Barr downplayed the memo during his confirmation hearing, saying it was narrowly focused and shouldn't be read that he has prejudged the investigation. "I will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel, but under the regulations, I make the decision as the head of the agency as to my own recusal", he told the Judiciary Committee in January.

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"Providing detailed information about a completed investigation of intense public interest has always been a part of Justice Department practice", writes Comey, whose politically-motivated firing by Trump in early 2017 was partially responsible for triggering the appointment of Mueller to take over the Russian Federation investigation from the FBI. During his hearing, Barr referred to the report as "confidential", but said the attorney general could release a separate report on Mueller's findings.

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. Many Democrats anxious how Barr would handle the special counsel's report when it is released and if he would order it made public. "Sometimes transparency is not a hard call".

Several Democrats joined almost all the Republicans in confirming Barr, 68, a longtime lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under the late President George H.W. Bush.

Before joining the Justice Department, Whitaker had made critical comments about Mueller's investigation, including once opining about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe.

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