Former DOJ official says Barr memo shows 'questionable judgment'

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams on Tuesday said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE's attorney general nominee William Barr showed questionable judgment by writing a memo that criticizes special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE's Russia probe. 

"On a matter of such public import and such legal sensitivity at the department right now, it seems like questionable judgment to have done it," Williams, who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti on "Rising." 

His comments come as Barr prepares to be grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee in his nomination hearing on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Barr sent the Justice Department and an attorney representing the White House in the Mueller probe a memo which criticized the Russia probe. 

Some Democrats have said the memo disqualifies Barr from leading the nation's top law enforcement agency.

Williams said that Trump's view of the role of attorney general makes Barr's nomination process more complicated. 

"He's not trying out to be the president's personal attorney. He's trying out to be the attorney general of the United States and the president has from the beginning of the administration made clear that he has this blurry notion of what's his personal lawyer and what the attorney general is," Williams said. 

"It's hard to see how it's anything other than trying out for the job and making his views on the legality and the propriety of this investigation," he continued, referring to the memo. 

If confirmed, Barr would replace former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE, who stepped down after the midterm elections. Sessions had become a regular subject of criticism from Trump after recusing himself from the Russia probe. 

— Julia Manchester