WHAT THE AG SHAKEUP MEANS
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the special counsel probe.
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people close to him who added they do not believe he would approve any subpoena of President Donald Trump as part of that in- vestigation.
Since stepping into his new role on Wednesday, Whitaker has faced questions – principally from Democrats – about whether he should recuse from the Russia investigation, given that he has written opinion pieces in the past about the investigation, and is a friend and political ally of a witness.
On Thursday, two people close to Whitaker said he has no intention of taking himself off the Russia case.
Ethics officials at the Justice Department are likely to review his past work to see if he has any financial or personal conflicts. In many instances, that office does not require a Justice Department official to recuse, but suggests a course of action. In the past, senior Justice Department officials tend to follow such advice, but they are rarely required to do so, according to officials familiar with the process.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. Officials there have said Whitaker will follow the regular procedure in handling any ethics issues that arise.
In 2014, Whitaker chaired the campaign of Sam Clovis, a Republican candidate for Iowa state treasurer. Clovis went on to work as a Trump campaign adviser and has become a witness in the investigation.
Matt Whitaker, the new acting US attorney general replacing Jeff Sessions, has written opinion pieces about the special counsel’s Russia investigation.