Matthew Whitaker has left the Justice Department

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By Julia Ainsley  with NBC News Politics
Image: Matthew Whitaker
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Feb. 8.   -   Copyright  Andrew Harnik AP

WASHINGTON — Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker left his position at the Justice Department on Saturday, a department spokeswoman said.

Whitaker had been serving as a senior counselor at the Justice Department since Attorney General William Barr was sworn in last month.

His next career move is unknown, but Whitaker has told friends that he will remain in Washington because there are "many opportunities here," according to sources who have spoken with him in recent days.

Whitaker previously served as former Attorney General Jeff Session's chief of staff. He was accused by some within the Justice Department of being more loyal to the White House than to Sessions as President Donald Trump grew frustrated with his attorney general.

Trump publicly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a move that allowed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe. Sessions was eventually forced to resign after the November midterms.

When Whitaker took over Sessions' position last November, Democrats expressed concerns that he would hamper the Mueller probe. Whitaker, who had previously questioned the scope of the special counsel investigation, ultimately decided not to recuse himself from the probe.

Barr now holds oversight power in the Mueller probe and with that, has the job to decide what portions of the probe, which is reportedly in its final stages, to share with Congress.