US Attorney General Nominee Grilled on Russia Probe

April FrancisJan 16, 2019

Barr wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post praising former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for rolling back the enforcement of civil rights protections for transgender people and issuing a "religious liberty" memo claiming there's no compelling government interest in barring anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

He called Mueller's posture 'grossly irresponsible" and said it had "potentially disastrous implications'.

Barr is scheduled to testify Tuesday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Russian Federation has denied US intelligence agencies" findings that it meddled in the 2016 campaign, while Trump has denied any collusion with Moscow and called Mueller's probe a "witch hunt'.

"It's unimaginable to me that Bob would ever do anything that gave rise to good cause", Barr said.

Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, including "any links and/or co-ordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump".

Barr told Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar last week that he would recuse himself from the Justice Department's efforts to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner Inc.

Barr also said "it is vitally important" that Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation and that Congress and the public should learn the results. Last year, Barr wrote a memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein critical of the Mueller probe. In addition to discussing his memo with Trump's personal attorneys, Barr also shared or discussed it with Kushner's lawyer.

The Justice Department will then be able to provide the report to Congress and possibly the public.

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Mr Barr also vowed not be biased in his handling of the Russian Federation investigation, saying he would "not let personal, political or other improper interests" influence his thinking.

Barr, Mr. Trump's pick to replace ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is looking for the approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee before his nomination goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

But Democrats asked why he wrote in a legal memo previous year that an aspect of the probe was "fatally misconceived".

Key Democrats have said they're especially skeptical about Barr because he sent an unsolicited letter to the Justice Department in June indicating a broad interpretation of presidential powers and asserting that Mueller's inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice is "fatally misconceived".

"I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it's imperative to have border security, and that part of that border security, as a commonsense matter, needs barriers", Barr said. He said presidents can not be criminally investigated for actions they are permitted to take under the Constitution, such as firing officials who work for them, just because of a subjective determination that they may have had a corrupt state of mind.

Barr said the memo was narrowly focused on a single theory of obstruction that media reports suggested Mueller might be considering.

Barr also said he believed so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, were hurting law enforcement's ability to safeguard the public.

Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker has been criticized by Democrats, both over his qualifications and what they say is demonstrated bias against special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

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