Attorney General nominee William Barr would allow Mueller's probe to finish investigation
resident Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general strove at his confirmation Tuesday to assert his independence from the White House, saying he believed Russia had interfered with the 2016 presidential election, that a special counsel investigation shadowing Trump needs to move forward and that his predecessor made the correct call by recusing from the probe.
Those comments departed from Trump's own views and underscored Barr's efforts to reassure Democrats that he will not be a loyalist to a president who has appeared to demand it from law enforcement.
Trump has repeatedly castigated special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, calling it a "witch hunt," and lambasted and ultimately pushed out his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for his recusal because of his work with the campaign.
"I will not be bullied into doing anything that I think is wrong, whether it be by editorial boards, Congress or the president," Barr said.
Barr repeatedly praised Mueller, who has been investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to sway the election, and sought to provide assurance he would not undermine his work. He called him a friend of 30 years and saying he couldn't imagine that Mueller would do anything that would justify his firing.
Barr would oversee the final stages of the investigation, and said that though he would consult with ethics officials on whether he would need to recuse because of a critical unsolicited memo to the Justice Department last year, the decision would be ultimately his.
He also disclosed having discussed Mueller with Trump during a meeting in 2017 when Barr declined to join his legal team.
Trump wanted to know what Mueller, who worked for Barr when he led the Justice Department between 1991 and 1993, was like.
Barr said he told Trump Mueller "is a straight shooter and should be dealt with as such."
The nominee also said former FBI Director James Comey made the wrong decision by holding a news conference announcing he wasn't recommending charges in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Barr said if authorities aren't going to bring charges, then there should not be a news conference to detail derogatory information uncovered during the probe. Comey has defended his decision.
"That's not the way the Department of Justice does business," Barr said.