Trump's AG pick: Mueller probe is 'vitally important' and findings should be made public
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that President Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee, William Barr, will assure the Senate in a prepared statement that he believes allowing special counsel Robert Mueller's probe to continue is "vitally important" and that its findings should be made public.
Barr also plans to assure lawmakers that Trump did not demand promises from him in return for the nomination — an important question, given that Trump reportedly tried to exact a promise of loyalty from FBI Director James Comey before firing him.
Trump nominated Barr to replace Jeff Sessions, whom Trump fired in early November. He raised eyebrows by passing over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to stand in as acting head of the Justice Department, instead choosing Sessions' former chief of staff Matt Whitaker, a rabid partisan who opposes the Mueller investigation and who flouted Justice Department officials' ethics advice to recuse himself from the issue.
On paper, at least, Barr ought to be an improvement over Whitaker — he is an experienced career Justice Department official who already served as Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush and has worked with Mueller. But he also has a track record of carrying water for Trump — he believes the president had a right to fire Comey, has called the investigation into whether Trump committed obstruction of justice "fatally misconceived," has repeated the Fox News narrative that Mueller's investigators can't be trusted because they supported Democratic campaigns, and has carried water for the Uranium One hoax.
Barr's personal assurances that he believes the Mueller investigation should be handled impartially are a bare minimum to address concerns about the Justice Department's independence. But the Senate must thoroughly vet his beliefs and track record when weighing his nomination.