Trump's acting AG doesn't plan to recuse himself from Russia probe: report

Trump's acting AG doesn't plan to recuse himself from Russia probe: report

President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE's new acting attorney general reportedly has no plans to recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference, despite lawmaker calls for him to do so.

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The Washington Post, citing multiple people familiar with the matter, reported on Thursday that Matthew Whitaker does not intend to recuse himself from overseeing Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's probe. 

The sources also said they do not believe Whitaker would approve a subpoena of President Trump as part of the probe, the Post reported. 

Trump announced on Wednesday that Whitaker would serve as acting attorney general after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE resigned at the president's request. Whitaker comes into the role after serving as Sessions's chief of staff. 

Whitaker in the past has made public comments critical of Mueller's investigation, including in an op-ed in The Hill, causing Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats step up pressure on Biden on student loan forgiveness Climate activists target Manchin Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision MORE (D-Calif.) to call for him to recuse himself from overseeing the probe.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Climate activists target Manchin Hoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat MORE (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that it concerns him a figure who has “been so vocal against the investigation” is now overseeing it. 

"Looking like it's been tilted one way or the other is wrong,” he said.

The Post notes that ethics officials in the DOJ will likely review Whitaker’s past work to evaluate if he has any conflicts of interest related to the investigation.

In most cases, the ethics office will suggest a course of action for an official take. However, they are rarely required to follow its advice, according to The Post.

The Department of Justice declined to comment to The Hill.

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE had been overseeing Mueller’s investigation since early 2017 after Sessions officially recused himself.

Trump, who has repeatedly called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt,” had consistently criticized Sessions for that decision.

Before joining Sessions’ staff in 2017, Whitaker was outspoken in his criticism of the Russia investigation.

“Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing," Whitaker wrote in an op-ed for CNN in August 2017.

It is unclear if Rosenstein will step aside from his role in helping oversee the investigation, The Post noted. A Justice Department spokeswoman previously told The Hill that the acting attorney general is "in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice."

-Updated 12:45 p.m.