Attorney general nominee William Barr told senators Monday that he would resign if ordered to fire special counsel Robert Mueller without a legitimate reason.
“I would resign rather than follow an order to terminate the Special Counsel without good cause,” Barr wrote in response to a list of questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to USA Today.
Barr’s pledge may be a moot point, both since Mueller is reportedly close to wrapping up his investigation and because President Donald Trump has not indicated that he plans to shut down the probe. But Barr’s statements could set at ease some Democrats who have expressed concern that Barr could stymie Mueller’s investigation, which began on May 17, 2017.
Democrats have raised concern about a memo that Barr sent in June 2018 to Justice Department executives questioning whether Mueller could legally investigate Trump for firing James Comey as FBI director.
Senators on the Judiciary panel will vote Tuesday whether to approve a full Senate vote for Barr’s confirmation. That vote could take place as soon as next week.
Barr, who served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, also said he will not allow the White House to make changes to any report of the special counsel’s probe that is submitted to Congress.
“Any report sent to Congress will be my own and will not reflect changes from anyone outside the Department of Justice,” Barr wrote.
Mueller is expected to provide the Justice Department with a report in the coming months. The report would explain any prosecution of declination decisions reached by the special counsel.
Barr hedged when asked whether he will submit the report to Congress or make portions of it public. But he said that under guidelines for the special counsel, he will transmit a report to Congress, which can release portions of it to the public.
“The Attorney General may release the report publicly to the extent that the release would comply with applicable legal restrictions,” he wrote.
He said that though there is likely to be classified information in the final Mueller report that cannot be publicly disclosed, the statutes governing the special counsel “does not itself restrict what Congress may do with the report.”
House Democrats have already said they are prepared to subpoena the report from the Justice Department and make portions of it public.
Barr revealed in his confirmation hearing that he is a longtime friend of Mueller, who served as FBI director from 2001 through 2013. He also said that he would allow Mueller’s investigation to continue without interference.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is currently overseeing the investigation, but he has announced that he will resign after Barr’s confirmation.
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