DOJ's Matthew Whitaker: Mueller Probe May Be 'Close to Being Completed'

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Asked by Fox News if the Justice Department would investigate witnesses who Republicans have accused of misleading Congress - including Comey and fired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok - Whitaker responded, "We take very seriously lying to Congress".

"I don't know what will be included any report prepared by the Special Counsel, what form such a report will take, or whether it will contain confidential or privileged material", Barr said in a written response to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee that were released Monday.

Over the course of his almost two-year-long probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors have now indicted 34 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes.

"Right now the investigation is I think close to being completed", Whitaker said.

Barr testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general January 15.

In his confirmation hearing this month, Barr told lawmakers he will let Mueller complete his work and pledged to make as many details of Mueller's findings public as he can, once the probe is completed.

Whitaker oversees the Mueller probe as head of the Department of Justice.

Mueller and the Justice Department will, in all likelihood, conclude that ― even if they find evidence that President Donald Trump committed crimes ― a sitting president can't be indicted.

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"The statements that I made were as a private citizen only with publicly available information", he said, adding that he was "comfortable" that the decisions that have been made are going to be reviewed "through the various means we have". Barr, in the past, stated that the firing of Comey had "no relevance to the integrity of the Russian investigation".

"We prefer that as much of the report as possible is public", Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News.

Those comments, coupled with Whitaker's friendship with Trump's 2016 election co-chair, Sam Clovis, have raised questions about whether Whitaker should recuse himself.

So far, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has charged 34 people, including several close to the president.

Six Trump associates have pleaded guilty to various charges so far including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former lawyer Michael Cohen and former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

While the White House likely celebrated news that Mueller's probe is wrapping up, Democrats were already mashing the panic button, concerned that Whitaker was unduly influencing Mueller's timeline, and that the parade of Mueller indictments may be coming to an end without a high-profile White House or Trump team arrest.

Stone faces a Tuesday morning arraignment in federal court, where he is expected to plead not guilty to charges that he lied to lawmakers, engaged in witness tampering and obstructed a congressional investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

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