WASHINGTON — The forced resignation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general has caused profound leadership changes at the Justice Department, above all affecting oversight of the investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

A look at the responsibilities of the Justice Department’s top two leaders and the special counsel running the department’s most consequential and politically sensitive investigation.

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MATT WHITAKER

The new acting attorney general, Whitaker will assume the duties and responsibilities fulfilled by Sessions. It’s a job he knows well given that Whitaker has spent the last year as Sessions’ chief of staff.

Whitaker is expected to assume oversight of Mueller’s Russia investigation. That would give him authority over funding and allow him to make critical decisions such as signing off on charges and determining whether Trump should be subpoenaed.

But if Whitaker moves to curtail Mueller, he would eventually have to disclose that to Congress.

Under the special counsel regulations, the attorney general must notify the leaders of congressional judiciary committees of any time he rejected a proposed action by Mueller because he deemed it “inappropriate or unwarranted” under department policy. That information isn’t disclosed to Congress until the investigation concludes.

Congressional Democrats are calling on Whitaker to recuse himself because of comments he made before joining the Justice Department that were critical and skeptical of the probe.

Those include an opinion piece on CNN.com in which he said Mueller would be going too far, and straying beyond his mandate, if he were to investigate Trump’s family finances.

It’s not clear that Whitaker will need to step aside. Sessions recused himself in March 2017 because of his work on Trump’s campaign and following the revelation that he had met during the 2016 campaign with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

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ROD ROSENSTEIN

As deputy attorney general, Rosenstein is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Justice …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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