Top takeaways from Trump AG pick William Barr’s confirmation hearing
Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, recused himself in early 2017 from any federal investigations into Russian election meddling, following reports of his previously undisclosed contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
On Tuesday, some senators asked if Barr would do the same, in light of a 19-page memo he sent the DOJ questioning whether Mueller’s reported inquiry into possible obstruction of justice by Trump was legally sound.
Barr said in his testimony that he would seek the advice of ethics officials on whether he should recuse himself — but that he doesn’t have to follow their recommendations.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who is widely believed to be considering a 2020 presidential bid, asked Barr: “Under what scenario would you not follow their recommendation?”
Barr replied: “If I disagreed with it.”
Pressed by Harris, Barr added that “it’s a judgment call. The attorney general is the person who makes the judgment.”
His memo, sent in June, raised fears that Barr may have been selected by Trump because of a bias against the investigation.
Barr said in his opening statement that the memo was narrow in scope, applying to a single statute that he inferred was being applied based on news reports he had read. He further told ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein that the memo was speculative.
“I was writing in the dark. We are all in the dark. Every lawyer, every talking head, everyone who thinks about or talks about it doesn’t have the facts,” Barr said.