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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mueller probe a focus of Barr confirmation hearing - The Washington Post

"Attorney general nominee William P. Barr is due to face tough questions Tuesday at his Senate confirmation hearing, as he pledges not to hamper or kill special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Donald Trump’s political campaign.

The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., and it promises to be a public showdown between Barr — whose prepared remarks show he is willing to pledge that there will not be political interference with the Justice Department’s work — and Democrats seeking to extract several ironclad assurances.

[Read Barr’s written testimony]

“If confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation,” Barr said in his prepared testimony, made available Monday. “I will follow the special counsel regulations scrupulously and in good faith, and on my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work.”

Democrats are expected to press Barr about whether he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation if such a move is recommended by Justice Department ethics officials.

Some have called for Barr, who served as attorney general during the George H.W. Bush presidency in the early 1990s, to bow out of the Russia case because of public statements he has made about the investigation and a private memo he sent to Justice Department officials in 2018 highly critical of part of Mueller’s investigation.

In that memo, Barr wrote that Mueller’s apparent theory of possible obstruction of justice by the president was “fatally misconceived.”

[Read Barr’s full 2018 memo here]

The Barr hearing is expected to be a partisan battle over the future of the Mueller investigation, but that by itself is unlikely to affect Barr’s chances of becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official because Republicans have majority control of the Senate.

Still, the hearing will allow for a public airing of two years of tension between the White House, the Justice Department and Congress over the future of the special counsel’s work and the broader independence of federal law enforcement.

In his written testimony, Barr vowed to maintain the Justice Department’s independence and said that Trump — who has been publicly critical of the FBI and Justice Department — “sought no assurances, promises, or commitments from me of any kind, either express or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the department with professionalism and integrity.”

Mueller probe a focus of Barr confirmation hearing - The Washington Post

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