William Barr, President Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, said on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing that it is "vitally important" special counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to conclude his Russia probe.
"I believe it is vitally important that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation," Barr said. "I have known Bob Mueller for 30 years. We worked closely together throughout my previous tenure at the Department of Justice. We have been friends since. And I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service."
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If confirmed, Barr will have oversight over Mueller's investigation, a fact that has raised concerns among some Democrats because of a memo Barr wrote about the Mueller investigation. In a 19-page memo, Barr wrote that Trump's publicly reported interactions with former FBI Director James Comey do not constitute obstruction of justice.
"I wrote the memo as a former attorney general who has often weighed in on legal issues of public importance, and I distributed it broadly so that other lawyers would have the benefit of my views. My memo is narrow, 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," Barr said. "The memo did not address or in any other way question the special counsel's core investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the election, nor did it address other potential obstruction of justice theories or argue, as some have strongly suggested, that a president can never obstruct justice."
Barr, if confirmed, would replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump became increasingly frustrated with the attorney general over his recusal from overseeing the Russia investigation, and he ultimately removed Sessions from the post last November.
Barr said he will not interfere with the special counsel investigation and that the country needs a credible resolution to the issue.
"I believe it is in the best interest of everyone, the president, Congress and the American people, that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work. The country needs a credible resolution to these issues. And if confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation," Barr said. "I will follow the special counsel regulation scrupulously and in good faith. And on my watch, Bob will be allowed to finish his work."
He added that he will make Mueller's report public to Congress and the American people.
"I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel's work. My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can, consistent with the law. I can assure you, that where judgements are to be made, I will make those judgments based solely on the law," Barr said.
Barr held the attorney general position previously under President George H.W. Bush.