WASHINGTON ― William Barr, the once and likely future attorney general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he doesn't believe Robert Mueller "would be involved in a witch hunt" and pledged to act with independence and not fire the special counsel without due cause. Barr, as head of the Justice Department, would take over from acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker and oversee Mueller's work.
Barr will offer his testimony - he's already submitted his written remarks, which he tells senators it's "vitally important" that special counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to finish the Russian Federation investigation.
Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, including "any links and/or co-ordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump". "Trump is circling the wagons and, obviously, considers the US Attorney General to be his get-out-of-jail-free card", explains Fredrickson. "I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based exclusively on the law".
Barr is expected to tell senators he wrote it himself as a former attorney general "who has often weighed in on legal issues of public importance".
Barr, 68, was nominated by the president to lead the Justice Department in December, after Sessions resigned at Trump's request in November.
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"We're all in the dark", Barr said of the inquiry.
During the hearing, Barr's past comments about the Mueller investigation attracted scrutiny, including an unsolicited memo he sent the Justice Department a year ago criticizing the special counsel's inquiry into whether Trump had sought to obstruct justice. But, he said, he wasn't aware of any accusation like that in Mueller's investigation.
He described Mueller, a former Justice Department colleague, as a friend he has known personally and professionally for 30 years.
Barr met with Senate Democrats last week, including California Sen. Sessions drew the president's ire for recusing himself from the Russiagate investigation; the president made no effort to hide his frustration with Sessions before firing him one day after the 2018 midterms. "I believe it is in the best interest of everyone - the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people - that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work". "My memo was narrow in scope, explaining my thinking on a specific obstruction-of-justice theory under a single statute that I thought, based on media reports, the Special Counsel might be considering", he noted.
Sessions, a former Alabama senator, had, by all reports, a hard time as Trump's top Justice Department official. Copies also were sent by Barr to White House lawyer Emmet Flood, Solicitor General Noel Francisco and Pat Cipollone, who is now White House counsel.