Trump's attorney general pick: Robert Mueller is not overseeing a 'witch hunt'

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Attorney General nominee William Barr said that, if confirmed, he would let special counsel Robert Mueller finish his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and believes the results should be made public.

"I will not be bullied into doing anything that I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president", Barr told the hearing.

"On my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work", Barr said.

Democrats have anxious that Trump may try to quash Mueller's findings when he concludes his work. He said Trump did not ask him for a promise of loyalty and he did not offer one.

Barr wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post praising former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for rolling back the enforcement of civil rights protections for transgender people and issuing a "religious liberty" memo claiming there's no compelling government interest in barring anti-LGBTQ discrimination. In the past, Barr has supported Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, which led to Mueller's appointment and an investigation of possible obstruction of justice.

The special counsel is required to confidentially report his findings to the Justice Department.

The remarks are meant to reassure Democratic senators troubled by Barr's past comments on the special counsel's probe, including an unsolicited memo he sent the Justice Department previous year criticizing the inquiry into whether the president had obstructed justice.

During Barr's highly-anticipated confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Graham read a series of anti-Trump texts swapped between former Federal Bureau of Investigation officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, in which they called the commander-in-chief "an effing idiot" and a "loathsome human being".

"The memo did not address - or in any way question - the Special Counsel's core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election", Barr added. He said he would consult with ethics officials on whether he would need to recuse because of a critical unsolicited memo to the Justice Department past year, but the decision would be ultimately his.

He said he had written a similar memo criticising the department's corruption case against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, which ended in a mistrial in 2017.

Barr told senators he was merely trying to warn Justice Department officials against "stretching a statute" to conclude that the president had obstructed justice.

"As Attorney General, my allegiance will be to the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people", he will say. He assured senators he has the highest respect for special counsel Robert Mueller and will not interfere with his probe.

Whitaker was advised to recuse by DOJ ethics officials but chose to ignore them.

Trump has refused to rule out pardons for people who have been swept up, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is awaiting sentence after two federal cases past year.

Barr's own statements about the inquiry have suggested that he is far more sympathetic to Trump's criticisms of Mueller than Sessions or Rosenstein.

Barr will say he's known Mueller for decades, respects him and believes he should be allowed to complete his work. Sessions sued California over the policies.

He also pledged "zero tolerance" for hate crimes, saying "we can only survive and thrive as nation if we are mutually tolerant of each other's differences - whether they be differences based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political thinking".

"I am going to do what I think is right".

Republicans also sought assurances from the nominee.

"I am for vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws to preserve competition", he said.

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