Attorney General nominee William Barr will pledge this week to allow special counsel Robert Mueller to complete his investigation into suspected collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, according to his written testimony submitted to the Senate.
The Mueller investigation is expected to take center stage when Barr appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing Tuesday and Wednesday. In his testimony, Barr emphasized his respect for the investigation and aimed to reassure lawmakers that his allegiance is to the rule of law.
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“I believe it is vitally important that the Special Counsel be allowed to complete his investigation,” Barr wrote in his testimony. “I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service.”
In addition, Barr vowed to provide as much transparency as he can “consistent with the law” to the public and to Congress on the results of the Mueller investigation.
Trump routinely criticizes the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”
Barr’s promise to allow Mueller to complete his investigation is likely to provide some relief to lawmakers. Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), along with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said they would reintroduce legislation to protect Mueller. The bill clarifies that the special counsel may only be fired by a senior Department of Justice official for good cause and gives the special counsel 10 days to request judicial review of his or her firing.
Senate Democrats are also expected to grill Barr on a memo he wrote last year to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that described Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump as “fatally misconceived.”
In his written testimony, Barr described the controversial memo as “narrow in scope” and emphasized that it “did not address — or in any way question — the Special Counsel’s core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” He added that memo did not suggest that a president could never be guilty of obstruction of justice.
In addition to addressing the Mueller investigation, Barr pledged to implement last Congress’ criminal justice reform bill, enforce immigration laws and to prioritize fighting foreign interference in U.S. elections.
Barr, who was attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, is expected to receive broad Republican support. But he’s already come under scrutiny from some Senate Democrats on the committee, who say he should have reached out to their offices to meet prior to the confirmation hearings.
Trump nominated Barr in December to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general. The president became frustrated with Sessions when he recused himself from overseeing the special counsel’s investigation.