Following his confirmation last month, a representative for Attorney General William Barr on Monday said Barr would not be recusing himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe.
“Following General Barr’s confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that General Barr should not recuse himself from the Special Counsel’s investigation,” Kerri Kupec, the Director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice, told Fox News in a statement.
“Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse.” However, a senior DOJ official tells Fox News that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is still the primary liaison for Mueller’s Office. Barr is ultimately in charge, but Rosenstein is still the primary liaison between the DOJ and Special Counsel Mueller’s office. Rosenstein is expected to step down from his position later this month.During his confirmation process, Barr was repeatedly questioned about his handling of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats and many Republicans have said they believe that Mueller’s final report should be fully released. Barr has said that he will be as transparent as possible under Justice Department regulations, noting that regulations call for the report to be confidential, requiring only that the report explains the decisions to pursue or to decline prosecutions.
“I don’t know what—at the end of the day, what will be releasable. I don’t know what Bob Mueller is writing,” Barr said at his hearing.
Barr was sworn in on Feb. 14 as President Trump’s next attorney general following his confirmation by the Senate earlier in the day, placing him in charge of a Justice Department whose past officials have come under sharp criticism from the president over the ongoing Russia investigation Barr will now oversee.
Several Democrats joined nearly 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. He was confirmed 54-45 President Trump’s former AG, Jeff Sessions, resigned at the president’s request after the November midterms. Trump had publically and privately lambasted Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation.
Sessions had recused himself amid revelations he spoke twice with Russia’s ambassador and didn’t disclose it to Congress.
Following his resignation, the president then named Matthew Whitaker, who was chief of staff to Sessions, acting attorney general. Whitaker left the DOJ on Saturday.