Updated Jan 15, 2019

"I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt"

Attorney general nominee William Barr. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Attorney general nominee William Barr said Tuesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believes Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not purposely targeting President Trump and his administration, despite what the president has claimed.

Background: Barr, who drafted a memo last year criticizing Mueller's investigation, said he is going to make as much information from the special counsel public as possible.

On protecting the Mueller probe: "The scope of the special counsel's investigation is set by his charter and by the regulations, and I will ensure that those are maintained," Barr said.

  • Barr said he thought former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was right to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
  • Barr said he wouldn't recuse himself from a DOJ investigation if he disagreed with ethics officials' recommendation that he recuse.

On Trump and Mueller: "If a president attempts to intervene in a [Justice Department] matter that he has a stake in to protect himself, that should first be looked at as a breach of his constitutional duties."

  • Asked whether he would fire Mueller if Trump asked him to, Barr said: "Assuming there was no good cause ... I would not carry out that instruction."
  • "President Trump has sought no assurances, promises or commitments from me of any kind, either express or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the department with professionalism and integrity."

On the 2016 election: "I believe the Russians interfered or attempted to interfere with the election, and I think we have to get to the bottom of it."

On reporters going to jail: Asked whether DOJ would ever jail reporters for doing their job, Barr said: "I can conceive of situations where, as a last resort, where a news organization [knows] they're putting out stuff that will hurt the country...there could be a situation where someone could be held in contempt."

On immigration: Barr said he thought a wall would address concerns about drugs coming into the U.S., but conceded after being pressed that he knew most drugs come through official ports of entry.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Axios Visuals

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,131,713 — Total deaths: 59,884 — Total recoveries: 233,591Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 278,458 — Total deaths: 7,159 — Total recoveries: 9,897Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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