Trump Can't Bully AG Pick Into Interfering in Mueller Probe

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President Donald Trump's nominee for United States attorney general, William Barr, told politicians on Tuesday that he would protect a federal probe into Russian election meddling from political pressure, stressing he would bring independence to the job and not shy away from breaking ranks with the administration.

"The memo did not address - or in any way question - the special counsel's core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election", Barr wrote.

Barr, 68, was nominated by the president to lead the Justice Department in December, after Sessions resigned at Trump's request in November. "Trump is circling the wagons and, obviously, considers the US Attorney General to be his get-out-of-jail-free card", explains Fredrickson.

"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.

If the answers are not satisfactory, Democrats on the committee have a responsibility to do more than merely reject Barr.

"There's no question he's the next attorney general", Spicer said.

William Barr, President Trump's pick for attorney general, faces the first day of confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. He insisted that Trump never sought any promises, assurances or commitments before selecting him for the job and said he had never asked him to fire Mueller or interfere with the investigation. Last year, Barr wrote a memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein critical of the Mueller probe.

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The nomination of Barr raised concerns related to how he might treat Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which he would be overseeing if confirmed for the position.

William Barr, whose confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins on Tuesday, will also assert that it is "very important" that as much of Mueller's Russian Federation findings as possible be made public.

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. "The big question in my mind is will he leave Mueller alone", Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Democrats also grilled Barr on the expansive view of presidential power he's displayed at the Justice Department and in the years since.

"I believe it is in the best interest of everyone - the President, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people - that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work", he will say.

Barr also discussed a conversation with Trump in June 2017, when Trump was looking to expand his private legal team. "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", he noted. 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. Barr stopped short of directly pledging to release Mueller's report but expressed general support for disclosing the findings. He also called the probe into whether Trump obstructed justice 'fatally misconceived.' Rosenstein said it didn't have an impact on him.

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