18:47, January 15 211 0 abajournal.com

2019-01-15 18:47:07
Attorney general nominee Barr says he would refuse order to fire Mueller absent good cause

Attorney general nominee William Barr and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Attorney general nominee William Barr said during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he would refuse an order by President Donald Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller without good cause.

Barr said he would remain independent of political pressure if confirmed as attorney general, report the Washington Post and the New York Times. Live updates from those publications, along with Bloomberg, are here, here and here.

“I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong,” Barr said.

Barr did say, however, that he wouldn’t give up the power to stop Mueller from taking certain actions if they are unwarranted. On the other hand, he said he would not stop Mueller from seeking testimony from Trump under a subpoena if it is justified and didn’t violate policies.

Barr said in early testimony that he didn’t think the Mueller investigation was a “witch hunt.” But in later testimony, Barr said the president’s “witch hunt” claim was understandable because that is the reaction anyone would have when falsely accused.

“The president is the one that has denied there is any collusion and has been steadfast in that,” Barr said, adding that presumably he knows the facts.

In his written testimony released on Monday, Barr said he would allow Mueller to complete his work, and he would not allow partisan politics to interfere with any investigation, including Mueller’s. He also said it was important for the public and Congress to be informed of Mueller’s work, and his goal was to provide as much transparency in a way consistent with the law.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Barr said he thought he would not be allowed to release a summary report prepared by Mueller on decisions to prosecute or not prosecute. Barr said he would write his own report to Congress, and his goal would be to provide as much information as possible under grand jury secrecy rules. Barr also said he would not let the White House edit or change the report.

Barr also said he would seek ethics advice on whether to recuse himself from the special counsel probe but said he retains the right to make the recusal decision. Some Democrats have suggested Barr should recuse himself because he has criticized some aspects of the investigation.

Barr said he agreed with the decision to recuse by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In an exchange with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Barr was asked about a New York Times article reporting that the FBI had at one time opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working with the Russians.

Graham asked whether Barr had ever heard of such a thing—Barr had not—and asked Barr to pledge to look into the who ordered the probe. Graham obtained Barr’s assurance, according to the New York Times.

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