US Attorney General Nominee Grilled on Russia Probe

Barr, who served as attorney general under George H.W. Bush, has come under scrutiny from Democrats who claim that the nominee's past remarks about the Mueller probe are disqualifying.

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.

In the remarks, Mr. Barr acknowledges that will provide "as much transparency" as he can under the law.

'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 written remarks.

During the hearing, Barr's past comments about the Mueller investigation attracted scrutiny, including an unsolicited memo he sent the Justice Department previous year criticizing the special counsel's inquiry into whether Trump had sought to obstruct justice.

President Trump had "asked for no assurances, promises or commitments and I gave him none" over his appointment as the government's chief lawyer, Mr...

In another key moment, Mr Barr was asked about former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' self-recusal from the Russian Federation inquiry, a decision that infuriated Mr Trump. That is how it must be. But he said that the memo in no way questioned the core investigation and did not address other obstruction theories.

It's the first major Judiciary Committee hearing since the dramatic testimony past year during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

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 USA law enforcement officer at a time when Trump faces several investigations.

Barr said he doesn't believe Mueller "would be involved in a witch-hunt", adding that it was "unimaginable" that the special counsel would do anything in the investigation that would justify reeling it in or shutting it down.

Barr said in his statement a sense of public service compelled him to have his name put forth after some initial concerns.

"I think it was entirely proper", he said of the memo, saying it was not unusual for former Justice Department officials to share their views of legal matters. He heaped praise on Mueller and said it would be hard to imagine a situation arising in which he would fire Mueller for cause. Barr, as head of the Justice Department, would take over from acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker and oversee Mueller's work.

Barr told Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar last week that he would recuse himself from the Justice Department's efforts to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner Inc. 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.

"I believe the Russians interfered or attempted to interfere with the election, and I think we have to get to the bottom of it", Barr said.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993, and his confirmation hearings almost 30 years ago went off largely without incident. He also called the probe into whether Trump obstructed justice 'fatally misconceived.' Rosenstein said it didn't have an impact on him.

  • Rogelio Becker