Politics & Policy

Barr Tells Senators He Might Not Release Mueller Report

William Barr testifies at his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, January 15, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Attorney General nominee William Barr declined to promise that he would release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report to Congress and the public.

“My goal and intent is to get as much information out as I can,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee, before adding that he was “not going to make a pledge to anyone on this committee” about how he would handle his responsibilities as attorney general.

“As the rules stand now, the rules I think say the special counsel will prepare a summary report on any prosecutive or declination decisions, and that shall be confidential and be treated as any other declination or prosecutive material within the department,” Barr said.

President Trump nominated Barr to take over the Justice Department from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the president fired in November after months of acrimony over Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election because of his role as a campaign surrogate for Trump.

“I am not going to surrender the responsibilities of the attorney general to get the title, I don’t need the title,” Barr said when asked about whether he would recuse himself if Justice Department ethics officials recommended it.

Barr’s nomination has caused consternation among those who want Mueller to be allowed to complete his investigation without being fired. Trump “is free to fire his officials that he’s appointed,” Barr said. But he added that as attorney general he “would not stand by and allow a U.S. attorney to be fired for the purpose of stopping an investigation.”

Barr affirmed to the senators that he considers Russia a “potent rival of our country.”

President Vladimir Putin’s “foreign policy objectives are, usually are directly contrary to our goals,” Barr said.

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