Rosenstein says Trump AG nominee’s memo had no impact on Mueller probe

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Thursday a memo written by President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department had no impact on the investigation of Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reported that William Barr’s memo written in June said Mueller’s probe was based on a “fatally misconceived” theory. Rosenstein said the memo reflected Barr’s personal opinion and had “no impact on our investigation.”

In another development, CNN reported that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has consulted with Justice Department ethics officials who advised him that he does not need to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s probe.

Rosenstein began overseeing the probe after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself early last year because of his role as a Trump campaign surrogate during the 2016 presidential election.

Rosenstein said the investigation is being handled appropriately but added “we’ll have more for you on that later today.”

The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer, on Thursday called on Trump to find a new nominee for attorney general. “The president must immediately reconsider and find another nominee who is free of conflicts and will carry out the duties of the office impartially,” Schumer said of Barr.

Trump said earlier this month he would nominate Barr, a former U.S. attorney general, to return to the position.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)