Confirmation Hearing to Probe AG Nominee William Barr's Views on Executive Privilege

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In his prepared remarks, Barr said the memo was narrowly focused on a single theory of obstruction that media reports suggested Mueller might be considering. Feinstein said at the time that Barr assured her that he would not interfere with the Mueller probe and that she meant to ask him about his controversial memo "in public".

Barr would replace acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who declined to recuse himself from the investigation.

Barr also pledged at his confirmation hearing to support and uphold the False Claims Act, a law that lets whistleblowers file lawsuits to help the federal government recover losses due to fraud. Barr said he told the friend that he didn't believe he could take on the "burden" of another client and that he didn't want to "stick my head into that meat grinder". Trump wanted to know what Mueller, who worked for Barr when he led the Justice Department between 1991 and 1993, was like. I look forward to this hearing.

Earlier this year, Barr reportedly sent an "unsolicited memo" to the Justice Department, in which he spoke out against the probe.

Barr is a far right wing religious extremist whose 1995 paper is causing great concern among civil rights advocates.

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

Barr - who refers to Mueller as "Bob" and describes their longtime friendship - can expect a host of questions from Democrats who have said they will press him under oath to commit to not shrinking Mueller's budget, limiting his authority or impairing his ability to seek subpoenas or bring charges.

"The memo, there will be a lot of talk about it, as there should be", Graham said. He also expressed concern about Barr's memo and predicted it would be the "first line of questioning" for many on the panel.

Barr sought to explain the memo, telling lawmakers he distributed it so "other lawyers would have the benefit of my views".

Asked by Illinois Sen.

Later in the hearing, Barr said, "I think Russians attempted to interfere with the [2016] election, and I think we have to get to the bottom of it". "I am going to do what I think is right", Mr Barr told senators. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and ranking Judiciary Committee member, said last week.

Several Democratic senators thought to be potential presidential contenders in 2020 - including Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar - are among those set to question Barr. Barr has already met with a number of senators on the committee individually. Republicans now hold 53 of the Senate's 100 seats.

Barr's views of presidential power could be important as prosecutors and Democrats in the House of Representatives, where they hold the majority, intensify investigations of Trump's personal business practices and his presidency.

Barr, a 68-year-old who first served as attorney general during George H.W. Bush's administration, also said he believed that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions probably did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russian Federation investigation - a decision that drew the ire of President Donald Trump and led to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's appointment of Mueller as special counsel and Sessions' forced resignation in November.

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