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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Barr to Back Mueller Probe in Senate Confirmation Battle

The Senate is not set to confirm William Barr as U.S. attorney general until Tuesday, but an advance copy of the nominee’s statement shows Barr will vow not to interfere in the special counsel’s investigation.

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate is not set to confirm William Barr as U.S. attorney general until Tuesday, but an advance copy of the nominee’s statement shows Barr will vow not to interfere in the special counsel’s investigation.

President Donald Trump nominated Barr last month to replace Matt Whitaker, who has been leading the Justice Department on a temporary basis since the Nov. 7 ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“As attorney general, my allegiance will be to the rule of the law, the Constitution and the American people,” Barr is set to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. “That is how it should be. That is how it must be. And if you confirm me, that is how it will be.”

A copy of Barr’s written testimony shows that the lawyer will also emphasize his respect for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a man he has known personally and professionally for 30 years.  

“When he was named special counsel, I said that his selection was ‘good news’ and that, knowing him, I had confidence he would handle the matter properly,” Barr will testify. “I still have that confidence today.”

The nomination of Barr has raised eyebrows, however, in light of his remarks through internal as well as public channels about the propriety of Mueller’s investigation.

“Mueller should not be permitted to demand the president submit to interrogation about the alleged obstruction,” Barr wrote in June to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Apart from whether Mueller [has] a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived.”

Though the Wall Street Journal reported that Barr’s memo arrived in June unsolicited by the Department of Justice, Barr will offer lawmakers an explanation for the memo Tuesday.

“I distributed it broadly so that other lawyers would have the benefit of my views,” Barr’s written testimony states. “As I explained in a recent letter to Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 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.”

While Trump routinely calls for the swift end of the Mueller investigation, which he labels a “witch hunt,” Barr will emphasize Tuesday that completion of the probe – and in proper order – would be in the best interest for everyone involved including the president, Congress and the American people.

“The country needs a credible resolution of these issues,” Barr’s testimony states. “If confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation. I will follow the special counsel regulations scrupulously and in good faith, and on my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work."

Barr’s confirmation hearing coincides with the ongoing partial government shutdown, which this weekend eclipsed national records.

Forgoing any deal struck on Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the southern border, Tuesday will mark the 25th day of the shutdown.

The president appeared no closer to offering a compromise Monday.

“Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes,” he tweeted. “At this point, it has become their, and the Democrats, fault!”

Immigration, the key issue at the center of the shutdown, is another topic Barr will focus on as his two-day confirmation hearing gets underway this week.

 “As we open our front door and try to admit people in an orderly way, we cannot allow others to flout our legal system by crashing in the back door. ... It would create unsafe conditions on our borders for all involved. It would permit an avenue for criminals and terrorists to gain access to our country,” Barr will say, according to his prepared remarks.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. 

Before his current appointment, Barr served as attorney general for the late President George H.W. Bush.

Categories / Government, Politics

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