16 January, 2019
Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general has contradicted the U.S. president by saying Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election meddling, is not involved in a "witch hunt". He sought to reassure senators that he could be trusted to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Mueller headed the department's criminal division while Barr served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993.
Under these circumstances Barr has no choice but to recuse from the Russian Federation investigation.
Barr has broad support from Republicans who control the Senate, but some Democrats have questioned whether he is the best choice to serve as the top US law enforcement officer at a time when Trump faces several investigations.
Speaking directly to Barr, Graham asked, "Do you promise me as attorney general - if you get this job - to look and see what happened in 2016?"
As attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, Barr argued the the president did not need congressional approval to engage in conflict in Iraq, Daskal noted.
Barr would replace acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who declined to recuse himself from the investigation. "But people who are closest to what Mueller is doing, who have interacted with the special counsel, cautioned me that this report is certain to be anti-climatic".
"I will diligently enforce the False Claims Act", Barr told Republican Senator Charles Grassley, marking a reversal from prior comments he made in which he declared the law was an abomination and unconstitutional.
However, he is expected to receive tough questions during two days of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee that start on Tuesday morning, including questions about why he wrote the memo and whether he will agree to make Mueller's findings public once the probe concludes. Barr said that Rosenstein had no visible reaction to his criticism, describing Rosenstein as "sphinx-like".
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He was willing to meet Trump again at any time, he added, "to produce a result that will be welcomed by the worldwide community". President Trump has said he expects a second summit to take place as early as February but there has been no confirmation yet.
He repeatedly said special counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to complete his inquiry into whether the Trump campaign colluded with an alleged Russian plot to influence the 2016 United States presidential election.
Barr as a private citizen penned a June memo that went after the Mueller probe.
Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee, jumped on the latest revelations, tweeting debate footage from 2016 in which she blasted Trump for bending to Putin's will and writing: "Like I said: A puppet".
Barr also sent the memo to White House lawyers and discussed it with Trump's personal attorneys and a lawyer who represents Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, among others. Barr said he would not let Trump modify the report and would make public as many of Mueller's findings as possible.
Mr Barr stopped short of promising to release Mr Mueller's report.
"For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law", he wrote. 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.
Under questioning, Barr said he doesn't believe "Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt". She said her line of inquiry would include questions about Barr's non-interference with the probe, including on matters such as the size of the budget for Mueller and his team at the Office of the Special Counsel.