Attorney General William Barr has received an ethics waiver for the Department of Justice’s investigation of a Malaysian corruption scandal involving Goldman Sachs,
effectively giving “him a window” into a probe in New York related to Trump’s inauguration, Politico reported on Tuesday.
Barr was granted a waiver, dated April 16, from a pledge he made when he took office to remove himself for two years from any matter involving his former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis.
The waiver allows the attorney general to participate in “the investigation and litigation of the 1MDB matter in which his former law firm represents an entity involved in the matter.”
Politico reports that Barr had previously worked as a lawyer for the firm Kirkland & Ellis, whose senior partner Mark Filip now represents Goldman Sachs in the investigation of 1MDB, a Malaysian development company that is being probed by the FBI and DOJ for alleged money laundering.
The news outlet notes that the head of DOJ’s criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, is “also a Kirkland & Ellis alum. But White House lawyer Emmet Flood issued an ethics waiver to Benczkowski in November that allowed him to participate in the 1MDB investigation.”
Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office in Northern Illinois, said he thought Barr should recuse himself from the 1MDB investigation.
Given Barr’s highly questionable handling of the Mueller report rollout, he should recuse himself from all investigations involving Trump for the good of the Department. @NatashaBertrand on the latest investigation into a contribution to Trump Victory: https://t.co/pI2U4PsjRM
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) April 23, 2019
“Given Barr’s highly questionable handling of the Mueller report rollout, there are appearance issues raised whenever he supervises an investigation involving Trump,” Mariotti said. “He should recuse himself for the good of the Department.”
As part of a wider probe into potentially illegal donations made by foreign nationals to Trump’s inaugural committee in 2017, New York prosecutors are investigating whether Jho Low, a Malaysian fugitive accused of helping to steal around $4.5 billion from 1MDB, illegally donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory committee in December 2017.
Low was indicted in the Eastern District of New York in October 2018 on money laundering and bribery charges.
The donation itself was made by U.S. citizen Larry Davis, the co-owner of Hawaii investment company LNS Capital, but investigators are scrutinizing whether transfers totaling $1.5 million that originated with Low earlier that year were funneled to the Trump Victory committee, according to the Wall Street Journal. Low has denied the allegations.
“Pursuant to the authority delegated under Section 3 of executive order 13770, I grant a waiver to William Barr, Attorney General, to U.S. Department of Justice, to participate in the investigation and litigation of the IMDB matter in which his former law firm represents and entity involved in the matter,” the order read.