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Justice Department Ethics Officials Say Matthew Whitaker Won’t Have To Recuse Himself From Russia Probe

Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker won’t have to recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported.

The decision was made by Justice Department ethics officials who’ve been in talks with Whitaker since he took the job in November after Jeff Sessions’ departure.

As attorney general, Sessions voluntarily recused himself from overseeing the investigation due to his prior role as a Trump campaign surrogate during the election.

Whitaker’s appointment has been challenged over ethical concerns about his past statements on the Russia probe. In 2017, he suggested that Mueller’s budget should be reduced to the point that it halts his investigation. He also claimed in an interview with the Wilkow Majority radio show that “there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign.”

Whitaker also argued in a CNN op-ed in 2017 that Mueller should not look into the Trump family’s finances. It would be a “violation,” he claimed, because the investigation was about Russia.

It’s not clear when ethics officials signed off on Whitaker’s role, but he is expected to inform the U.S. Senate on Thursday, according to CNN’s source.