In confirmation hearings that sometimes got a little heated, President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, has pretty much vowed he would not stand in the way of Bob Mueller completing his investigation. However, he also said that he “would not be bullied,” and that it would remain his decision whether or not to recuse himself from his oversight role in that investigation.
He also did not make it 100% clear whether he would, or would not, hold back some of the information in the yet to be released Mueller’s report from the public.
As opposed to the President, Barr had nothing but praise for the Special Counsel. “I don’t believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt,” Barr said, who was pressed immediately by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to investigate what Republicans say was wrongdoing within the FBI and Justice Department with regards to President Trump. He went on to say, “I’ve known Bob Mueller for thirty years,” Barr said, recalling their work when Barr first served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush. “We’ve been friends since.”
Barr was asked repeatedly about a memo that he wrote to the Justice Department, in which he weighed in with his thoughts about questions he had about the scope of the Mueller investigation. Despite being goaded by Democrats, who feared that he would shut down, or otherwise hinder the research, Barr said flatly, “Bob will be allowed to finish his work,” pledging as much “transparency as possible” in releasing the details of Mueller’s findings, but he stopped short of saying that he would release the results in their entirety to the public, pending classified information that could be in the report.
However, he said he believes that “The country needs a credible resolution to these issues…”
All Things Mueller
While other issues were raised during the hearings, including how Barr feels about the stalemate over the border wall funding and the subsequent government shutdown, the hearings quickly became consumed with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.
When asked about the decision of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Barr said Sessions made the right decision to stay out of the Mueller probe.
Barr also revealed that he met with President Trump in 2017 when the White House was looking for lawyers to defend the President with regards to the Special Counsel investigation.
“How well do you know Bob Mueller?” Barr recalled being asked, describing the meeting as a short one, to which there was no follow-up until the President moved to select him as the Attorney General, following the departure of Sessions.
As Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed Barr about his memo on the Russia probe, Barr said Mueller could only be fired for “good cause” regarding his conduct during the investigation. “Frankly it’s unimaginable to me that Bob would ever do anything that gave rise to ‘good cause,’” Barr told Senators.
Asked about a statement by one of the President’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, that the White House should have the chance to ‘correct’ any public report by the Special Counsel, Barr frowned on that idea.
“That will not happen,” Barr said.
“I believe the Russians interfered, or attempted to interfere, in the election and I think we have to get to the bottom of it,” he added.
AG Nominee Supports the Border Wall
While seemingly to depart with the President on his opinion of Mueller and his probe, his nominee staunchly supports his position on the need for a border wall. When asked about the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, Barr said, “I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it’s imperative to have border security, and part of border security, as a common sense matter, involves barriers.”
Barr said a “barrier system across the border” is needed for stopping illegal immigration and the “influx of drugs.”
Barr, 68, was nominated by the president to lead the Justice Department in December after Sessions resigned at Trump’s request in November.
Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993, and his confirmation hearings nearly 30 years ago went off mostly without incident. To be confirmed, Barr will need to garner a simple majority of votes in the Senate. Republicans currently hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats.