Trump AG nominee to say Congress, public should know results of Mueller probe

Trump AG nominee to say Congress, public should know results of Mueller probe
© Greg Nash

William Barr, President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE's nominee for attorney general, will tell lawmakers this week that he will allow special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE to complete the Russia investigation and will work to make the findings public.

“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,” Barr will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Hill.

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Barr will also say that his goal will be to "provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law" in regard to the special counsel's findings. And he will insist that he will not allow “partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration” to interfere with Mueller’s investigation or any other Justice Department probes.

“I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decisions," he will say.

Confirmation hearings for Barr are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Barr has been the subject of intense scrutiny since his nomination in December over past criticisms of the Mueller investigation. Some of the president's critics have worried he could look to end the investigation or impede it in another way, through the oversight powers he would have at the helm of the Justice Department.

In particular, Barr has faced criticism from Democrats for submitting an unsolicited memo to the White House last year in which said the probe into possible obstruction of justice was based on a "fatally misconceived" theory.

In his testimony, Barr will tell lawmakers that he wrote the memo as a former attorney general accustomed to weighing in on high-profile legal matters and will describe it as “narrow in scope.” It did not address or question Mueller’s core probe, Barr will say.

“Nor did it address other potential obstruction-of-justice theories or argue, as some have erroneously suggested, that a President can never obstruct justice,” Barr will say. “I wrote it myself, on my own initiative, without assistance, and based solely on public information.”

Barr’s prepared testimony is likely to throw cold water on fears that he would look to impede Mueller’s probe and appease critics who worry the Trump administration will work to suppress its findings from the public.

Mueller has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — including possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow — for more than 19 months, amid biting public attacks from Trump. He is also said to be probing whether the president obstructed justice.

Mueller is widely believed to be in the later stages of his investigation and is expected to deliver a report on his findings to the Justice Department. It would then be up to the attorney general to decide whether to release the document.

“If confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation,” Barr will tell lawmakers. “I will follow the Special Counsel regulations scrupulously and in good faith, and on my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work.” 

Barr is still likely to face a barrage of questions related to Mueller’s investigation during his two days of confirmation hearings. He is expected to be confirmed by the Republican-led Senate, though his confirmation process will not be without high drama.

His predecessor, Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBudowsky: Senate must protect Mueller from Barr, President Trump Feinstein grappling with vote on AG nominee Barr Central American women fleeing domestic violence deserve refugee status MORE, resigned as attorney general at Trump’s request the day following the November midterm elections. Trump had fiercely attacked Sessions over his recusal from Mueller’s investigation.

Barr also plans to outline what will be his four major priorities at the Justice Department if he is confirmed in his opening remarks: fighting violent crime, prosecuting hate crimes, enforcing and bolstering U.S. immigration laws, and protecting the right to vote and the integrity of U.S. elections.

Michael Burke contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:02 a.m.