US Attorney General Nominee Grilled on Russia Probe

William Barr to face tough Senate hearing on attorney general nomination

President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee William Barr is prepared to tell Congress he will protect Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe - saying the special counsel must be allowed 'to complete his investigation'.

"The memo did not address - or in any way question - the special counsel's core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election", Barr said.

Barr served in the same position under former President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993.

As Trump spoke, remarks that Barr is preparing to make at his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday were obtained on Monday by the Associated Press.

Barr wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post praising former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for rolling back the enforcement of civil rights protections for transgender people and issuing a "religious liberty" memo claiming there's no compelling government interest in barring anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

During the hearing, Barr's past comments about the Mueller investigation attracted scrutiny, including an unsolicited memo he sent the Justice Department a year ago criticizing the special counsel's inquiry into whether Trump had sought to obstruct justice.

"My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law", he said.

'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 in his written remarks.

The way Barr will handle Mueller and his work is expected to dominate the two-day confirmation hearing.

Barr could benefit from the fact that some Democrats view him as a better option than the man who took over the job after Trump forced out Jeff Sessions a year ago, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

In his remarks Tuesday, Barr will say that the memo was narrowly focused on a single theory of obstruction that media reports suggested Mueller might be considering.

"If confirmed, the president is going to expect you to his bidding". He said he did not seek out the job and was reluctant to accept when Trump offered it to him.

Barr would replace acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who declined to recuse himself from the investigation over past critical comments on it - despite calls from Democrats and the advice of a Justice Department ethics official.

Barr stopped short, however, of guaranteeing that all of Mueller's findings will be given to Congress and the public. With the party's 53 seats in the Senate, four Republicans would have to join all Democrats to block him.

Barr will say he supports a new law that eases prison sentences for some criminals, despite his decades-long advocacy of long prison sentences and other aggressive crime-fighting tactics.

Mueller may submit his findings to the Justice Department as early as February, according to one US official.

Barr sent a memo to the Justice Department in June 2018 asserting that Mueller's investigation into possible obstruction of justice on Trump's part was out of bounds.

Barr said his memo did not question the legitimacy of the probe as a whole, but only expressed concerns that the special counsel might be improperly interpreting one aspect of the law.

"Any failure by Barr to clearly address any of the above questions should-and would-disqualify him from serving as the highest law enforcement officer in the land".

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