WASHINGTON – William Barr, nominated to be President Donald Trump’s next attorney general, believes that Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report should be made public and vowed that he will allow the special prosecutor to complete his work.
“It is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel’s work,” Barr said in written testimony delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of Tuesday confirmation hearing.
“For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision,” Barr said.
Barr also is expected to tell lawmakers that it is “in the best interest of everyone – the president, Congress and most importantly, the American people – that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work.”
“The country needs a credible resolution of these issues,” Barr’s written testimony said. “If confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation.”
If confirmed to succeed the ousted Jeff Sessions, Barr would have full authority over the management of Mueller’s inquiry.
Barr’s prepared remarks address the most urgent issue facing the nominee, who had authored a memorandum earlier this year critical of the special counsel’s inquiry, specifically describing Mueller’s review of possible obstruction of justice by the president as “fatally misconceived.”
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The special counsel has been weighing whether Trump sought to obstruct the inquiry in part by firing FBI Director James Comey.
Democrats and some Republican lawmakers had signaled that they would press Barr on his conclusions.
In his opening statement, Barr explained that his memo, addressed in June to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has been overseeing Mueller’s work, was “narrow in scope” and addressed an obstruction theory that had been the subject of media reports.
“The memo did not address – or in any way question – the special counsel’s core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” according to Barr’s testimony. “Nor did it address other potential obstruction-of-justice theories or argue, as some have erroneously suggested, that a president can never obstruct justice. I wrote it myself, on my own initiative, without assistance, and based solely on public information.”
Barr’s memo was viewed with increased urgency by some Democrats after it was disclosed that Rosenstein was preparing to leave the department following Barr’s anticipated confirmation.
Rosenstein has repeatedly expressed his support for Mueller and the ongoing inquiry.
For his part, Barr acknowledged that he has known Mueller, both “personally and professionally,” for more than three decades and cited their work together at the Justice Department during the administration of George H.W. Bush.
“We’ve been friends since,” Barr stated. “I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service. When he was named special counsel, I said that his selection was ‘good news’ and that, knowing him, I had confidence he would handle the matter properly. I still have that confidence today.”
Citing a “deeply divided” political environment, Barr vowed that the Justice Department would rise above political warfare.
“In the current environment, the American people have to know that there are places in the government where the rule of law – not politics – holds sway, and where they will be treated fairly based solely on the facts and an even-handed application of the law. The Department of Justice must be such a place,” Barr said.