William Barr, Donald Trump’s pick for the position of attorney general, doesn’t seem to sync up with him on the top of Robert Mueller. On Tuesday, Barr answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of his confirmation hearings — and according to CNBC, he quickly made it clear that he doesn’t always side with Trump.
During the course of the hearings, Barr was asked by Republican Chairman Lindsey Graham about Mueller’s ongoing investigation. In particular, Graham asked Barr to comment on Trump referring to the probe as a “witch hunt” — a phrase the president has frequently used during the course of the Russian probe.
“Do you believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt against anybody?” Graham asked Barr during the hearings.
“I don’t believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt,” Barr responded.
This sentiment comes in direct contrast with Trump’s attitude toward Mueller and his investigation. The president has repeatedly criticized the special counsel, calling the probe a “witch hunt.” Trump has also characterized the entire investigation as “illegal” and “phony.”
However, Barr clearly does not agree with that sentiment. This is due in no small part to the fact that Barr and Mueller have a professional and personal history. Barr has previously assumed the position of attorney general under George H. W. Bush’s administration and worked closely with Mueller for several years. In fact, he testified to Congress that he and Mueller “were good friends” when they worked together in the government.
Breaking News: President Trump’s attorney general nominee said he would allow Robert Mueller to finish his investigation, seeking to allay Democrats’ fears https://t.co/lCtLYHGYoK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 14, 2019
In fact, Barr has come out in favor of the investigation as a whole, once again putting him at odds with Trump. According to the New York Times, Barr has said that he would in no way interfere with Mueller completing his investigation into Russia’s involvement with the 2016 election.
That spells good news for Democrats — to a point. While Barr has said that he supports Mueller finishing the investigation, he also admitted that he would be unable to stop Donald Trump should he ultimately choose to terminate the probe. If given the order to end the investigation, Barr would have no choice but to comply.
Mueller has been investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election since May of 2017. During that time, he has received considerable pushback from Trump and his administration. Trump has repeatedly denied any involvement with Russia or any inappropriate behavior during the campaign process. Mueller’s investigation remains ongoing.