WASHINGTON – Attorney general nominee William Barr said that, if confirmed, he would lead the Justice Department independent of political considerations.
“If confirmed, I will serve with the same independence I did in 1991. At that time when President [George H.W.] Bush chose me, he sought no promises and asked only that his attorney general act with professionalism and integrity,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
He added: “Likewise, President [Donald] Trump has sought no assurances, promises, or commitments from me of any kind, either express or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the department with professionalism and integrity.”
Barr has come under fire due to a Wall Street Journal report from last December related to an unsolicited memo he sent the Department of Justice last summer. In the memo Barr questioned the merits of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and expressed what many believe to be unconventional views about the limits of executive power.
Barr downplayed the significance of the memo, saying that it offered informal guidance and that such practice is common among former high-ranking DoJ officials.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Barr if the president could issue a pardon to a subordinate so as to prevent the disclosure of incriminating information.
“No. That would be a crime,” Barr replied.