Whitaker recusal from Mueller probe unlikely, but Rosenstein still involved

While special counsel Robert Mueller technically had a new boss at the Justice Department as of Wednesday af...

Posted: Nov 9, 2018 2:32 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2018 2:32 AM

While special counsel Robert Mueller technically had a new boss at the Justice Department as of Wednesday afternoon, the day-to-day work of the probe forged ahead on Thursday.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's top deputy, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan, met with lawyers from the special counsel's team, according to a source familiar with the matter -- just as he has been doing on nearly a biweekly basis for months, as CNN previously reported.

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Investigations

Matt Whitaker

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

US federal government

White House

Government departments and authorities

Government organizations - US

Jeff Sessions

Justice departments

Law and legal system

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

Rod Rosenstein

It's a small but illustrative example of how the Mueller probe is likely to function, at least for the time being, in the wake of the abrupt ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

For nearly 18 months, Rosenstein has overseen the special counsel's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election because Sessions had stepped aside from all matters related to the presidential campaign.

But when Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, leapfrogged over Rosenstein and was named acting attorney general in his boss' place Wednesday afternoon, questions immediately began to swirl about who Mueller would report to, whether Whitaker must recuse himself from the investigation given his fierce criticism of it, if Rosenstein would quit and whether Mueller's work will be curtailed.

Whitaker has given no indication he believes he needs to step aside from ultimately overseeing Mueller's investigation, one person familiar with his thinking told CNN Thursday.

That belief is echoed by White House officials who also do not believe Whitaker needs to recuse himself, sources tell CNN.

From a practical standpoint, one of the sources said, it would defeat the entire purpose of naming him as acting attorney general since Trump railed against Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

But Rosenstein is expected to continue to handle the day-to-day management of the probe, as he would for any other significant criminal investigation.

One source described it as "business as usual."

However, the arrangement may prove challenging down the line, or quickly, if Whitaker and Rosenstein disagree on any significant matter.

As the Washington Post reported Thursday, people close to Whitaker do not believe he would approve Mueller seeking a subpoena of President Donald Trump.

While Whitaker has made questionable comments that could create the appearance of a conflict of interest, there isn't an explicit conflict under Justice Department rules, as might arise if -- for example -- he had a family member under active investigation.

According to department procedures, Whitaker would have to initiate an ethics review about a potential problem and has not yet done so. And even if ethics advisers at the Justice Department suggested he step aside, Whitaker is not obligated to follow that advice, sources explained.

One senior White House official noted that the Sessions situation was different. As a campaign surrogate, Sessions was arguably "substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation," according to Justice Department regulations. Whitaker's writings do not fall under that requirement in the White House's view, though by Thursday evening senior officials were growing uneasy about the negative press coverage of Whitaker's previous comments about Mueller.

Lafayette
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 50°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 45°
Rensselaer
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 37°
Lafayette
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 50°
Danville
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 41°
Frankfort
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
Frankfort
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 43°
Monticello
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 41°
Monticello
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 41°
Logansport
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 45°
Rather Dry, Windy Forecast
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 700775

Reported Deaths: 13167
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion956451709
Lake51038935
Allen38781670
Hamilton34153404
St. Joseph33552538
Elkhart26950431
Vanderburgh21987393
Tippecanoe21560212
Johnson17387373
Porter17124297
Hendricks16690309
Clark12628190
Madison12271337
Vigo12126243
Monroe11302166
LaPorte10716204
Delaware10271184
Howard9590211
Kosciusko9037113
Hancock7896139
Bartholomew7824153
Warrick7665155
Floyd7526176
Wayne6865197
Grant6753168
Boone651099
Morgan6356138
Dubois6060117
Marshall5729108
Cass5662102
Dearborn566175
Henry5554100
Noble535583
Jackson490769
Shelby476095
Lawrence4322118
Gibson426188
Harrison425770
Montgomery415586
Clinton414753
DeKalb404883
Huntington375180
Whitley373939
Miami370865
Knox364689
Steuben360757
Putnam351460
Wabash345777
Jasper343746
Adams337452
Ripley332868
Jefferson307479
White306654
Daviess288299
Wells284480
Decatur278592
Fayette276962
Greene269385
Posey268033
Scott259053
Clay251544
LaGrange250170
Randolph234179
Washington229629
Spencer227331
Jennings224247
Fountain207445
Sullivan207341
Starke200352
Owen191056
Fulton190039
Jay185329
Carroll184820
Perry178936
Orange176152
Rush169824
Vermillion165643
Franklin165135
Tipton160843
Parke143616
Blackford132431
Pike129834
Pulaski112845
Newton102834
Brown99340
Crawford96914
Benton95313
Martin82215
Warren78815
Switzerland7698
Union69510
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events