Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has passed the ethics test, according to the Department of Justice. Following an investigation, Whitaker has the green light to oversee the Robert Mueller Russia investigation.
Democrats won't be happy. They still have several issues with Trump's temporary appointment of Whitaker, including his apparent inexperience. They've also accused Trump of circumventing Congress with the appointment, demanding that Whitaker sit before a Senate committee before taking on the responsibility of acting AG. Critics also note how he often Whitaker has publicly criticized the probe he's now overseeing. Yet, following an ethics probe there's no need for him to recuse himself, the DOJ announced Thursday.
Now that Whitaker has been cleared, he'll begin receiving regular briefs on the investigation.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was criticized and insulted by President Trump after he recused himself from the Russia probe because some members of Congress were concerned by statements he made in his confirmation hearing and the fact that he was a surrogate for Trump's presidential campaign.
Trump has nominated William Barr as the next permanent attorney general, but he too has a history of questioning the merits of the Mueller probe. In a memo written this past June, Barr wrote that Trump was well within his executive authority during his controversial meetings with former FBI Director James Comey and that some aspects of the Mueller investigation were based on "fatally misconceived” theories.
As for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man currently in charge of the Mueller probe, he said Thursday that the investigation "is going to be handled appropriately," regardless of who's in charge. He also defended Barr, predicting he'll be an "excellent" AG.
Analysts predict the Mueller investigation will stretch for months, especially after former national security adviser Michael Flynn's sentencing was delayed. Flynn pled guilty to lying to prosecutors about his Russian contacts. It was a wild hearing, where the judge accused Flynn of selling out his country.