Prosecutor leaves Mueller team amid reports of investigation's progress

A prosecutor working with Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE's Office of the Special Counsel has exited the team and returned to the Justice Department as news reports indicate that the investigation could be nearing its conclusion.

Scott Meisler left the special counsel probe in December, a spokesman for the special counsel said in a statement, but remains active on cases related to the Mueller probe to which he was assigned before his December departure.

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"Scott Meisler concluded his detail with the Special Counsel's Office in December 2018 and returned to the Criminal Division but continues to represent the office on specific pending matters that were assigned to him during his detail," spokesman Peter Carr said.

Reports of Meisler's departure come days after acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told reporters that the probe was "close to being completed."

“I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible,” he said at the end of January.

The special counsel's investigation has reentered headlines in recent weeks with the arrest and indictment of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDOJ backs ex-Trump campaign aide Richard Gates's probation request Schiff says investigators seeking to identify who Giuliani spoke to on unlisted '-1' number What if impeachment fails? MORE, a former adviser and longtime confidant of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems want tougher language on election security in defense bill Five aides to Van Drew resign ahead of his formal switch to GOP The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE, on charges of witness tampering and obstruction.

Stone has entered a plea of not guilty, and vowed to fight the special counsel's efforts to prosecute him or the president.

“The idea that a 29-member SWAT team in full tactical gear with assault weapons would surround my house, 17 vehicles in my front yard, including two armored vehicles, a helicopter overhead … and that I would open the door looking down the barrel of assault weapons, that I would be frog-marched out front barefooted, handcuffed when they simply could have contacted me,” Stone said of his arrest last month.