Monday acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker held a press conference to announce that the U.S. was filing criminal charges against China’s largest telecommunications firm. But during the press conference, Whitaker also made news on the progress of the Mueller investigation. NBC News reports Whitaker said, “The investigation is, I think, close to being completed, and I hope that we can get the report from [Special Counsel] Mueller as soon we — as possible.” CNBC has more:
“I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible,” Whitaker said during a Department of Justice news conference announcing indictments against Huawei officials.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment to CNBC.
While there were reports that the special counsel probe was wrapping up, Whitaker’s remark is the first indication from a Justice Department official suggesting that Mueller could deliver his report soon.
Whitaker was asked directly if, in light of his previous criticism of the Special Counsel, he’d seen anything once he became acting AG and began receiving briefings that gave him pause about Mueller or his investigation. He replied, “You know I’ve been fully briefed on the investigation and I look forward to Director Mueller delivering the final report.” He continued, “I really am not going to talk about an open an ongoing investigation otherwise.
“But the statements that I made were as a private citizen only with publicly available information and I am comfortable that the decisions that were made are going to be reviewed either—through the various means we have. But right now the investigation is I think close to being completed and I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible.”
Whitaker seems to be saying that his previous criticisms of Mueller’s investigation were made without complete knowledge of the situation, i.e. with publicly available information. Now that he’s been briefed as acting AG…well, he’s still not endorsing Mueller’s investigation. Instead he says he’s “comfortable” that its findings will be reviewed. Is he talking about the DOJ, himself, the media? It’s a little vague.
Here is the video of his response. This came at the very end of the announcement and the Q&A which followed about the Huawei indictments.