William Barr Says 'Straight Shooter' Mueller Wouldn't Lead A 'Witch Hunt'

William Barr Says 'Straight Shooter' Mueller Wouldn't Lead A 'Witch Hunt'

"I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong".

Democrats worry that Trump's administration may try to undercut the investigation, which has been a frequent target of the president and his allies.

Former DOJ spokesperson under Attorney General Eric Holder, and frequent MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst Matthew Miller says Barr would be "breaking precedent" to not recuse. He said Trump did not ask him for a promise of loyalty and he did not offer one.

Barr's testimony is being closely watched because he would assume oversight of the Mueller probe at a critical time - and because of his unsolicited memo that went after the probe and questioned its foray into potential obstruction of justice.

Noting that his personal and professional relationship with special counsel Robert Mueller extends back 30 years, William Barr said he and Mueller have "been friends" since they worked together at the US Justice Department in the early 1990s. Barr said that he believed the brief meeting took place before a White House staff meeting and that the president asked Barr about how well he knew Mueller.

He also previously said the president's firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey was appropriate and that the Mueller prosecution team, criticized by Trump for including prosecutors who have contributed to Democrats, should have had more "balance".

But Barr faced tough questions from Democrats about an unsolicited, 19-page memo he wrote previous year that called Mueller's probe "fatally misconceived" for examining whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey in 2017.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Barr the memo showed "a determined effort, I thought, to undermine Bob Mueller".

"The memo did not address - or in any way question - the Special Counsel's core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election", Barr added. "If the president has violated the law, we must be able to rely on the Justice Department to independently investigate such charges". He said there were other instances in which he had given advice to the Justice Department, such as cautioning against a prosecution of Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.

GOP support makes Barr's confirmation likely.

He also said former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was right to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation because of his role in the 2016 campaign, something that infuriated the president and led to Sessions' removal.

Trump has spent months attacking Mueller as "highly conflicted" and unable to carry out the probe.

He said he would consult ethics officials on whether he would need to recuse himself because of the memo, but made clear the final decision would be his.

Trump has refused to rule out pardons for people who have been swept up, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is awaiting sentence after two federal cases past year. "Trump is circling the wagons and, obviously, considers the US Attorney General to be his get-out-of-jail-free card", explains Fredrickson.

Barr's own statements about the inquiry have suggested that he is far more sympathetic to Trump's criticisms of Mueller than Sessions or Rosenstein. I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel's work.

Related Articles