AG Barr won't recuse himself from overseeing Mueller probe

WASHINGTON — New Attorney General William Barr will maintain oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and not recuse himself as his predecessor did, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Barr's decision came after ethics officials at the Justice Department concluded that he should not recuse himself, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

"Following Attorney General Barr's confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that Attorney General Barr should not recuse himself from the Special Counsel's investigation. Consistent with that advice, Attorney General Barr has decided not to recuse," said Kupec.

As attorney general, Barr has the power over funding for Mueller's probe and he will ultimately decide how much of the investigation's findings he can share with Congress.

Mueller is expected to conclude his investigation within the coming weeks, according to reporting by NBC News and other news outlets.

WASHINGTON — New Attorney General William Barr will maintain oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and not recuse himself as his predecessor did, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Barr's decision came after ethics officials at the Justice Department concluded that he should not recuse himself, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

"Following Attorney General Barr's confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that Attorney General Barr should not recuse himself from the Special Counsel's investigation. Consistent with that advice, Attorney General Barr has decided not to recuse," said Kupec.

As attorney general, Barr has the power over funding for Mueller's probe and he will ultimately decide how much of the investigation's findings he can share with Congress.

Mueller is expected to conclude his investigation within the coming weeks, according to reporting by NBC News and other news outlets.

Barr's predecessor, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the investigation, citing his ties to the Trump presidential campaign, which Mueller has been investigating for possible collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr refused to promise Democrats he would recuse himself from his role of overseeing the Mueller investigation.

Democrats raised concern about a memo Barr wrote in 2018, laying out why President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey was not obstruction of justice.

Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who filled the post between Sessions and Barr, sought the advice of the ethics officials at the Justice Department, and ultimately rejected their conclusion when he decided not to recuse himself.

The advice of ethics officials is not binding, but most prosecutors who fear their participation in a case may create an appearance of a conflict of interest consult the ethics office when deciding whether or not to recuse.

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William Barr through the years
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William Barr through the years
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 1991 file photo, then Attorney General nominee William Barr is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barr once advised the U.S. government that it could attack Iraq without Congressional approval, arrest a deposed foreign dictator and capture suspects abroad without that country’s permission. Those decisions reflect a broad view of presidential power that Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to reclaim his old attorney general job, demonstrated at the Justice Department and in the years since. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
U.S. President George H. Bush signs into law new civil rights guarantees for women and minorities at a Rose Garden ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991 in Washington, as Vice President Dan Quayle, left, and Acting Attorney General William Barr look on. The bill signing capped a two-year struggle with congress over whether the legislation encouraged job quotas. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
U.S. President George H. Bush, right, and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as the new Attorney General of the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1991 at a Justice Department ceremony in Washington. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite)
U.S. President George H. Bush gestures while talking to Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, May 4, 1992 in Washington. The President met with top domestic Cabinet officers to tackle long-range problems pushed to the forefront by last week's deadly riots in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Board member of MCI Telecommunications, Nicholas Katzenbach, second left, speaks at hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on "The WorldCom Case: Looking at Bankruptcy and Competition Issues" on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 22, 2003. Witnesses are, from left, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon Communications William Barr, Katzenbach, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP's Marcia Goldstein, Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr, National Bankruptcy Conference Vice-Chair Douglas Baird, Cerberus Capital Management Chief Operation Officer Mark Neporent. (AP Photo/Akira Ono)
Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, left, listens as William Redpath, Libertarian Party national chairman, answers a question at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007. (AP Photo)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, left, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, arrives to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, right, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Attorney General nominee William Barr , left, turns to answer a reporter's question as he arrives to meet with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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