Dems request probe of Barr communication on Mueller spinoff probes

Dems request probe of Barr communication on Mueller spinoff probes
© Stefani Reynolds

A trio of Senate Democrats are asking Justice Department watchdogs to probe potential talks between Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDemocratic lawmaker calls asylum, refugee programs 'crown jewel' of immigration system Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony Cummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe MORE and White House staff about investigations spinning off from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's Russia investigation.  

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits MORE (D-R.I.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker Joint chiefs nominee: Trump's transgender policy about 'standards' MORE (D-Hawaii) sent a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Office of Professional Responsibility Director Corey Amundson on Monday asking them to investigate if Barr shared the names of spinoff cases with White House staff.  

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"It would be highly inappropriate if Mr. Barr did in fact share case names with, and by default revealed the identity of, any defendants in those cases to the White House, particularly given that those same cases have been shielded from public view in the Special Counsel’s report," the senators wrote in the letter. 

Barr told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he had not had "substantive" talks with White House staff about the 14 cases Mueller referred to the Justice Department but that "it’s possible a name of a case was mentioned." 

The three senators added in their letter that discussing case names could "interfere" with the ongoing investigations, which they argued "could implicate the conduct of individuals in the White House, including the president, his family, and his business associates."

The senators are requesting that the Justice Department officials find out if any "improper communications" have occurred between the White House and Justice Department, including in regard to the Mueller spinoff cases. 

"Specifically, we request that you investigate whether Mr. Barr revealed any names of any of the 14 cases referred by Special Counsel Mueller, or the defendants in those cases, to the White House, as his testimony before our Committee indicated," they wrote. 

If they find that Barr discussed names of cases with White House staff, the senators want to know whom he discussed them with and if he discussed any other details of the cases with White House officials, including Trump.