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senate hearing
January 15, 2019

William Barr seems to have Special Counsel Robert Mueller's back — to an extent.

President Trump's pick for attorney general faced the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Democrats worried about the safety of Mueller's probe questioned Barr, and he responded with some reassurance — and some reason for Democratic concern.

1. Not to fire Mueller at Trump's request: One Democrat, Sen. Chris Coons (Del.), asked Barr if he'd allow Trump to fire Mueller, "assuming no good cause." Barr responded that he "would not carry out that instruction," but also later told multiple senators he would not recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe if ethics officials recommended he do so.

2. Not to impede related investigations: Barr's later assured that he "would not allow a U.S. attorney to be fired for the purpose of stopping an investigation," seeing as Trump is implicated in a Southern District of New York case.

3. To allow Mueller to finish the probe: In his opening statement, Barr shared how he's known "Bob" Mueller for years and said he'd let the special counsel "complete his work." He avoided saying whether he'd heard "nonpublic information" about the probe, but said he didn't "recall" hearing anything "confidential" about it from the White House.

4. To prevent 'edits' to Mueller's report: Barr said he would not allow "editing" of the confidential Mueller report. But he did not agree to Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) request for Barr to "explain" any deletions or edits he makes to a public version of the report, or to follow through on any prosecutions Mueller may suggest in it. Kathryn Krawczyk

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