President Trump's nominee for attorney general is pledging to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. In the first part of his confirmation hearing Tuesday, William Barr told senators he won't be bullied by Congress, the media or even the president.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wasted no time addressing the main concerns of critics about William Barr, the president's nominee to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
"Do you believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt against anybody?" Graham asked Barr at Tuesday's confirmation hearing.
"I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt," responded Barr. "On my watch, Bob will be allowed to finish his work."
Barr, who served as attorney general under president George H.W. Bush, insisted he would resist any outside pressure to improperly influence the investigation.
"I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody whether it be editorial boards, Congress or the president," he commented.
Unlike his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, Barr refused to commit to recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
"There are different kinds of recusal," Barr explained. "Some are mandated, for example, if you have a financial interest. But there are others that are judgment calls."
Last year Barr sent a memo to Trump's lawyers calling an aspect of Mueller's case into whether there was Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election "fatally misconceived."
At Tuesday's hearing, he explained his memo to officials at the Department of Justice which defended President Trump from accusations of obstruction.
"I was speculating, I said at the beginning, I was writing in the dark, and we're all in the dark," said Barr. "Every lawyer, every talking head who thinks about and talks about it doesn't have the facts."
In an interview on CBN News's Faith Nation, Andrew Coan, author and professor of law at the University of Arizona, suggested Barr's sharing of the memo with the president's legal advisers raises concern, but he said Barr will likely be confirmed.
"I do think that raises some questions about his ability to supervise this investigation impartially," said Coan. "I think he’s going to be confirmed. There’s very little doubt about that.”
Barr said under Justice Department guidelines, Mueller's findings would be confidential, but that in the interest of transparency, he would then release his own summary of the report to the public and Congress.
Meanwhile, Barr promised to look into questionable moments inside the DOJ such as those anti-Trump text messages between former FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.