Senators are concerned about statements made by William Barr, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next attorney general.
Republicans have expressed fears that it could divulge into a “character assassination” if they do not like the nominee.
Democrats are not ready to call for Barr’s recusal from the special counsel investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, but want assurances from him that he will not intervene.
WASHINGTON — Despite the federal government continuing under a partial government shutdown, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with the confirmation hearing for William Barr to serve as attorney general.
Democrats on the committee have deep concerns about his views on presidential authority and the way he would run the Justice Department, while Republicans are bracing for tense, partisan hearings like they saw during the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Read more: Meet William Barr: What you need to know about the possible once and future attorney general
Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has drawn outrage and concern from Democrats looking to protect the special counsel investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign. Barr sent an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department calling the special counsel probe “legally unsupportable” and “potentially disastrous.”
“As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law,” Barr wrote. “Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.”
Democrats on the committee told INSIDER that Barr’s attitudes toward the special counsel, which is being led by the former FBI Director Robert Mueller, is of the utmost priority.
“I would be very interested in his views on the independence of the Mueller investigation, whether or not he will protect it,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said. “He has made some statements in the past that give me some concern.”
Coons, who is one of the coauthors of a bill that would put barriers in place to prevent the White House from dismantling the special counsel, added that he plans to discuss Mueller’s investigation with Barr in private and again in the public confirmation hearing.
Whether Barr should recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller probe, Coons said he was not yet sure that would be necessary, but would have to receive commitments before making a decision.
“I mean I think were he to announce that he intended to leave it in its current structure where it is being supervised very ably by Rod Rosenstein, that would be met with fairly broad enthusiasm,” Coons said.
Colleagues of Coons, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal, also listed Barr’s position on the special counsel as a top priority, as well his views on executive power as a whole.
“High on the list [of concerns] is an absolute ironclad assurance and commitment that there will be no interference in the special counsel investigation, including prompt and complete approval of subpoenas, other investigative tools, and any indictments that are returned by the grand jury,” Blumenthal …read more
Source:: Business Insider