Barr says Trump asked him for no promises

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Attorney general nominee William Barr on Tuesday declined to unconditionally follow the advice of Justice Department ethics officials on whether he should recuse himself from oversight of the Russian Federation probe, as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions did and as Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker notably declined to do. He sought to reassure senators that he could be trusted to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Trump frequently criticises the Mueller probe as a "witch-hunt" and has denied any collusion with Russian Federation or obstruction of justice. Trump wanted to know what Mueller, who worked for Barr when he led the Justice Department between 1991 and 1993, was like.

"We're relying on you to clean this place up", Graham said of the Justice Department. Barr has already met with a number of senators on the committee individually. But the attorney general, not the special counsel, will decide whether all or some of the report will be shared with Congress and the public.

Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has drawn scrutiny for a memo he wrote a year ago criticizing special counsel Mueller for examining whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation by firing then-FBI Director James Comey in 2017.

President Trump had "asked for no assurances, promises or commitments and I gave him none" over his appointment as the government's chief lawyer, Mr...

He said he raised his concerns at a lunch past year with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversees his work.

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"As Attorney General, my allegiance will be to the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people", Barr said.

"I believe it is vitally important that the Special Counsel be allowed to complete his investigation", Barr wrote.

William Barr should face intense scrutiny when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, about whether his long history of work with Verizon Communications Inc., GTE Corp., Time Warner Inc., and the hedge-fund firm Och-Ziff Capital Management Group shouldn't raise great big red flags regarding a nominee to oversee antitrust, monopoly, and merger issues. He has even said that Trump made the "right call" when he fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, in a move that was criticized not just by Democrats but also by Republicans.

Barr also discussed a conversation with Trump in June 2017, when Trump was looking to expand his private legal team.

"I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it's imperative to have border security, and that part of that border security, as a commonsense matter, needs barriers", Barr said. "My memo was narrow in scope, explaining my thinking on a specific obstruction-of-justice theory under a single statute that I thought, based on media reports, the Special Counsel might be considering", he noted. Barr stopped short of directly pledging to release Mueller's report but expressed general support for disclosing the findings.

"I'm going to do what I think is right", Barr said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said presidents can not be criminally investigated for actions they are permitted to take under the Constitution, such as firing officials who work for them, just because of a subjective determination that they may have had a corrupt state of mind. He called the obstruction focus, "fatally misconceived".

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