Acting AG: Mueller’s probe ‘close to being completed’

Michael Balsamo
Associated Press
Robert Mueller.

Washington – Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign is “close to being completed,” the acting attorney general said Monday.

Speaking at an unrelated news conference in Washington, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he had been “fully briefed” on the special counsel’s investigation. He began overseeing the probe after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at President Donald Trump’s request in November.

“The investigation is, I think, close to being completed, and I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible,” Whitaker said.

He said he was looking forward to Mueller delivering his report. The investigation is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and ties to Trump’s campaign.

Whitaker has drawn criticism over his decision not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation even though a top Justice Department ethics official advised him to step aside out of an “abundance of caution.” His past criticism of the Russia investigation has raised questions about whether he can oversee it fairly.

Trump has nominated William Barr to serve as the next attorney general. His confirmation hearing was held this month and he’s awaiting a vote in the Senate.

So far, 34 people, including six Trump associates, have been charged by Mueller. Those charged include Trump’s former national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his former personal lawyer and two other campaign aides.

Meanwhile on Monday, a judge delayed the sentencing of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Virginia. Manafort was convicted of eight financial crimes at a Virginia trial last year.

The sentencing was delayed as a judge in Washington decides whether Manafort intentionally lied to investigators.

In other related matters, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal are proposing that Mueller be required to submit a report to Congress and the public when his Russia investigation is complete.

Legislation introduced by Grassley, R-Iowa, and Blumenthal, D-Conn., on Monday would require any special counsel to send a report to lawmakers and the public at the end of an investigation. The legislation would also require a report within two weeks if a special counsel is fired, transferred or resigns.