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"I have been fully briefed on the investigation", Whitaker, who has authority over Mueller's probe, said during a news conference Monday.

Democrats have demanded that Whitaker step back from Mueller's continuing investigation because he openly criticized the probe in interviews previous year before he joined the Justice Department.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's review of Russian interference in the 2016 election is "close to being completed", Acting Attorney General Mathew Whitaker said Monday, suggesting that the investigation that has roiled Washington for almost two years may be nearing its conclusion. "I look forward to Director Mueller delivering the final report".

Democrats pressed Barr for written, on the record, answers about what he'll be willing to share about the probe with Congress and the public.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) R.I., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Jeff Sessions, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., October 18, 2017. He added that he would "follow the special counsel regulations scrupulously" and that his goal "will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law".

"I hope to be pleasantly surprised that he is not attempting to interfere in any way with the Mueller investigation or slow or prevent release of his report, but one could draw those inferences", Coons said.

Whitaker's remarks came just days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller ordered the dramatic predawn arrest of former Trump adviser Roger Stone on charges he allegedly lied to Congress and directed another witness to do the same.

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Whitaker, who is seen as a Trump ally, took over the Justice Department - and oversight of the Mueller probe - after former attorney general Jeff Sessions resigned at Trump's request in November. Trump has nominated William Barr to serve as the next attorney general.

Barr went on to explain that the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion that it would be unconstitutional to indict or prosecute a sitting president remains operative.

At Tuesday's hearing, Feinstein said that Barr's indication that he would write a separate report that he would provide to Congress instead of Mueller's report is something "that needs to be fleshed out".

The Justice Department's regulations call for the special counsel to give the attorney general a "confidential" report when he completes his work, but nothing compels whoever is acting as attorney general for the purposes of the regulation - whether Rosenstein, Whitaker or Barr - to release it to anyone.

Lindsey Graham, who oversees the panel, announced that the vote to send Barr to the full Senate for a confirmation vote would be delayed, along with other nominees being considered by the committee. Barr stressed during his confirmation hearing that he would not allow partisan politics or personal interests to interfere with any investigation.

Trump has repeatedly accused the special counsel team of being a biased "witch hunt" against him.


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