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Trudeau’s Top Aide Resigns Over Judicial Interference Reports

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a speech during the opening of the 10th ministerial meeting of the Lima Group in Ottawa, Canada, 04 February 2019. The Lima Group holds an emergency meeting aimed at increasing pressure on Venezuela's President Maduro to leave power and consolidate support for self-proclaimed interim president Guaido, and to discuss on measures to provide economic aid as well as the humanitarian and refugee crisis. EPA-EFE/Andre Pichette

Justin Trudeau has lost his most trusted adviser to a growing controversy over allegations of judicial interference that the Canadian prime minister’s office continues to deny.

Principal Secretary Gerald Butts issued a statement Monday announcing his resignation in order to prevent the issue from distracting “from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians.”

A report this month by the Globe and Mail newspaper raised allegations the prime minister’s office pressured Trudeau’s former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to settle fraud and corruption charges against construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. The controversy escalated last week after Wilson-Raybould, who had been moved into a new ministry recently, quit cabinet.

In his statement, Butts said he “categorically” denied the allegation that he or any of his staff pressured her.

“My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend,” Butts said in the statement. “It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away.”

Butts is one of Trudeau’s closest friends and a key voice on all major decisions, considered the second most influential official in government. He and Chief of Staff Katie Telford have been the most powerful aides in Trudeau’s government since it took power in 2015. DM

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