Barr says he would 'not carry out' Trump order to fire Mueller without good cause

Barr says he would 'not carry out' Trump order to fire Mueller without good cause
© Greg Nash

William Barr, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE's pick to serve as his next attorney general, on Tuesday said he would not fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE if President Trump ordered him to do so without good cause. 

During Barr's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators press Facebook over user location tracking policies Senators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda MORE (D-Del.) asked Barr about how he would respond to an order to fire the special counsel.

The senator tied his question to the Watergate scandal when the prosecutor investing Watergate resigned instead of following then-President Nixon's order for him to fire the special counsel investigating the matter. 

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"Most famously, when directed by President Nixon to fire the special counsel, the prosecutor investigating Watergate, [Elliot] Richardson, refused and resigned instead, as we all know. If those directions were to fire Mueller, would you follow Richardson's example and resign instead?" Coons asked Barr.

"Assuming no good cause," the lawmaker added.

"I would not carry out that instruction," Barr told Coons.

Later in the hearing, Barr denied that the president has asked him either to fire or interfere with Mueller's investigation.

"I want to try to cut through some of the innuendo here. Did President Trump instruct or ask you once you become attorney general to fire Mr. Mueller?" Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) asked.

"Absolutely not," Barr replied.

In a follow-up question, Kennedy also asked Barr whether Trump has asked him to interfere in Mueller's probe, to which he again replied: "Absolutely not."

Barr also dismissed similar questions that the White House has made such requests as well.

The questions come as Democrats warn that President Trump could seek to interfere — or even obstruct — Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Throughout hours of questioning during his hearing, however, Barr sought to assert his independence in overseeing the probe, vowing that he will allow the Mueller investigation to continue to run its course unhindered.