Attorney General William Barr Won’t Recuse Himself From Mueller Investigation

U.S. Attorney General William Barr listens during a Department of Justice African American History Month Observance Program at the Department of Justice February 26, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from his position of oversight on Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to CNBC, the Department of Justice announced on Monday that the recently appointed attorney general received word from career ethics officials advising him not to recuse himself.

DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec made a statement on Monday confirming that Barr didn’t plan on recusing himself.

“Following General Barr’s confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that General Barr should not recuse himself from the Special Counsel’s investigation,” the spokesperson said.

As such, the attorney general, who was appointed and confirmed by the Senate last month, would heed that advice and stay in position.

Many Democrats hoped that Barr would recuse himself because of a memo that he sent last June to the Justice Department criticizing the inquiry into whether or not President Trump attempted to obstruct justice. Speaking as a private citizen, Barr sent a 19-page memo to the White House and DOJ explaining why he felt that Trump’s firing of James Comey did not constitute obstruction of justice.

He has also criticized the Mueller investigation but has praised Mueller for his conduct. Barr also supports broad executive power and has refused to agree to release Robert Mueller’s report in full once the investigation is completed.

Rumors around D.C. suggest that Mueller may submit his final report to Barr in the near future. At that point, it would be up to Barr to decide what to tell Congress.


During his confirmation in January, Barr said that he thought it was important that Mueller’s investigation be allowed to conclude and that he would not fire Mueller without “good cause.”

“I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the Special Counsel’s work. For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law,” Barr said at the time. “I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political or other improper interests influence my decisions.”

At the same time, Barr says that he will make as much of the report public as possible, but won’t commit to making the entire thing available to Congress.

Barr has said that he had planned to decide whether or not to recuse himself based on advice from ethics officials, but would not commit to following their advice on releasing the Mueller report.