Kirsters Baish| It has been reported that William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for the Attorney General position, has refused to recuse himself from the Mueller probe when Democratic Senator Kamala Harris brought up the issue.
During a Tuesday confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Harris continued a line of questioning started by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont as to whether or not Barr would follow the Justice Department’s advice regarding a possible recusal.
“I will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel, but under the regulations, I make the decision as the head of the agency as to my own recusal,” Barr said to Leahy, as reported by The Washington Post.
Harris sent out a tweet with a video of the exchange with Barr on the matter. She called Barr’s response “absolutely unacceptable.”
“Would it be appropriate to go against the advice of career ethics officials that have recommended recusal, and can you give an example that under what situation or scenario you would go against their recommendation that you recuse yourself?” Harris questioned Barr.
“There are different kinds of recusals. Some are mandated if you have a financial interest, but there are others that are judgment calls,” he answered.
AG nominee Barr said he would go against the recommendation of career ethics officials and refuse to recuse himself from the Special Counsel’s investigation if he "disagreed with them.”
That’s absolutely unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/GsmkiEJLQY
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) January 16, 2019
The California senator wondered what he would do if the judgment of the DOJ ethics office was he should recuse. “Under what scenario would you not follow their recommendation?” Harris asked.
“If I disagreed with it,” Barr responded.
Senator Harris questioned Barr “on what basis” he would come to such judgment.
“The facts,” he simply answered.
“If I disagreed with them,” Barr said.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal also questioned Barr about his involvement in the Mueller probe, to which Barr responded, “I am not going to surrender my responsibilities.”
He continued, “I’m not going to make a pledge to anyone on this committee that I’m going to exercise it in a particular way or surrender it.”
Western Journal reports:
On the counsel of DOJ ethics officials, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation a little over a month after taking office in January 2017, which became a source of frustration for Trump.
Barr told the senators on Tuesday, Sessions “probably did the right thing recusing himself,” given his circumstances. The former Alabama senator was an early Trump supporter and campaign surrogate.
CNBC reported that Democrats’ concerns about Barr overseeing the Mueller investigation arise from a 19-page memo he wrote and submitted to the Justice Department last June questioning whether the special counsel’s reputed inquiry into possible obstruction of justice by Trump in the firing of FBI director James Comey was legally sound.
Barr said that the theory of incriminating Trump was “premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law” in the memo, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I know you will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically-elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime — not a debatable one,” he continued. “It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly-zealous prosecutors.”
In 1991, Barr was unanimously confirmed to serve as Attorney General under then-President George H.W. Bush.