News

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.

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More
U.S.

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More
Elections

In Defense of Tulsi

Some years ago, a liberal-minded friend of mine complained during lunch that Fox News was “stealing” his elderly parents. “They should be enjoying retirement,” he said, noting that they live in a modest but comfortable style with attentive children and grandchildren to enjoy. “But instead,” he sighed, ... Read More
Culture

Not Less Religion, Just Different Religion

The Pew Poll tells us that society is secularizing -- particularly among the young -- and who can deny it? That is one reason that the free expression of religion is under such intense pressure in the West. But it seems to me that we aren't really becoming less religious. Rather, many are merely changing that ... Read More
Religion

The Crisis of Catholic Leadership

In the last 48 hours there have been two big Vatican stories. First, revelations about the Holy See’s financial crisis; second, and more bizarrely, a furious dispute over statues being thrown into the Tiber. But really it’s all one story, the big story of contemporary Catholicism: a disastrous failure of ... Read More