Attorney General William Barr has recused himself from the ongoing Justice Department investigation into Boeing in connection with two recent fatal crashes of its 737 Max planes, an official from the Justice Department said.
The attorney general’s recusal comes shortly after it was reported that the aircraft manufacturer had enlisted the Kirkland & Ellis law firm as part of its defense team in the federal investigation.
CNN reports that a Justice Department official said earlier in the week that Barr would not participate in any retrospective review of the 2008 plea deal offered to accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 by Florida federal prosecutors because of the attorney general’s association with the law firm.
Federal investigators are looking into Boeing’s Federal Aviation Administration certification and marketing of its 737 Max model of commercial planes, CNN has learned from sources with knowledge of the matter.
The crashes, which happened last October and in March of this year, resulted in the death of 346 people.
Boeing did not immediately comment on the latest development.
Bloomberg, which first reported the recusal, writes that the move removes a key decision-maker in the criminal investigation that aims to determine whether Boeing and federal regulators gave the green light for the Max 737 without conducting all the necessary security checks.
Federal prosecutors, who recently expanded their investigation, have also subpoenaed records related to the jet. The expansion of the probe adds even more pressure to the Chicago-based manufacturer which is facing civil and congressional inquiries into the Max, too.