Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation.
“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 at a press conference to announce an indictment against Huawei, a Chinese telecom company.
Whitaker said that he had been “fully briefed on the investigation” being led by Mueller, a former FBI director.
NEW: Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker says Mueller investigation “is, I think, close to being completed, and I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible.” https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/HL7XCGTohV
— ABC News (@ABC) January 28, 2019
Whitaker’s surprise remarks are the first confirmation from a government official that the investigation is nearing its end. Reports have suggested that Mueller was in the process of writing a final report. NBC News reported in December that Mueller planned to turn over a final report by mid-February.
Whitaker, who was appointed associate attorney general after Jeff Sessions was fired on Nov. 7, has come under fire from Democrats because of statements he made before joining the Justice Department criticizing the Russia probe. As the head of a conservative watchdog group, Whitaker questioned whether Mueller had the constitutional authority to investigate President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice for firing James Comey as FBI director. (RELATED: Matthew Whitaker Questioned Political Makeup Of Mueller Grand Jury)
Whitaker also asserted that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, while calling into question the political makeup of the grand jury that Mueller is using in Washington, D.C.
“I think the grand jury makeup is concerning based on where they called this grand jury,” Whitaker told radio host David Webb on Aug. 11, 2017.
Whitaker appeared to address those prior statements on Monday, saying that they were “sort of the statements that I made were as a private citizen only with publicly available information.”
Mueller’s investigation began on May 17, 2017, about a week after Trump fired Comey. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chose Mueller as special counsel to take over the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Kremlin. That investigation was formally opened on July 31, 2016.
Mueller has obtained guilty pleas from or indicted several Trump associates, including Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn.
So far, none of the indictments or plea deals have involved allegations of conspiracy with Russian operatives.
On Friday, Mueller indicted Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, on seven charges, most of which were related to Stone’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017.
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