The top U.S. justice official has said that the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is nearing completion.
The comments January 28 by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker came just days after Mueller's prosecutors indicted another close associate of President Donald Trump.
The arrest of that associate, Roger Stone, suggested that Mueller's investigation still had some time to go, according to legal experts.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, D.C., Whitaker said he had been "fully briefed" on Mueller’s probe.
"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 said.
Whitaker was appointed by Trump as head of the U.S. Justice Department in November after Trump's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, resigned.
Sessions normally would have overseen an extraordinary investigation like the one Mueller has been conducting since May 2017.
However, Sessions recused himself from the case, due to perceived conflicts, leaving the job to his deputy. Trump criticized Sessions repeatedly for that decision.
Whitaker, however, has not recused himself, despite Democrats’ pointing to past statements that they say showed bias.
Whitaker's appointment is temporary; the U.S. Senate is scheduled to soon hold a vote on a permanent attorney general.
In all, Mueller's investigation has resulted in charges against 34 people.
That includes Trump's former national-security adviser, his former campaign chairman, and his former personal lawyer.