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The Latest: Senator says Barr has confidence in Mueller

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s expected departure from the Justice Department (all times local):

1 p.m.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says Attorney General nominee William Barr has confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur) and will let Mueller finish his Russia investigation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says Barr has a “very, very high opinion” of Mueller.

The South Carolina Republican was among the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who met with Barr on Wednesday as Barr made the rounds on Capitol Hill before his confirmation hearing next week.

President Donald Trump pushed out Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year and nominated Barr to replace him.

Trump’s critics have warned that Barr may try to curtail Mueller’s investigation, given that the president has repeatedly called it a “witch hunt.”

And Barr wrote an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department last year critiquing Mueller’s investigation

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8:50 a.m.

The White House is casting the expected departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in coming weeks as Rosenstein’s choice alone.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Rosenstein had always planned to stay around two years. Sanders told Fox News there was no “willingness” by Trump or the White House to force Rosenstein out.

She says he wants to help with the transition to a new attorney general.

William Barr, President’s Donald Trump’s nominee to be the permanent attorney general, is scheduled to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week for his confirmation hearings. Barr could be installed at the Justice Department as early as February.

Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian ties to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has denounced the investigation as a witch hunt.

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7:20 a.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave his position soon after William Barr is confirmed as attorney general.

That’s according to a person familiar with the plans who wasn’t authorized to discuss them publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Barr has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be confirmed within weeks.

Rosenstein had been overseeing the day-to-day operations of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Once confirmed, Barr would assume oversight of the probe.

The person familiar with the plans said there was no specific date for Rosenstein’s departure. It is common for attorneys general and other Cabinet secretaries to have their own deputies.

—Associated Press writer Eric Tucker




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