President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general refused for a second time to assure lawmakers he would publicly release special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, according to The Washington Post.
William Barr, who previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, said in written answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his “goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law.”
Barr gave a similar answer earlier this month during his confirmation hearing, prompting lawmakers to try again for a more firm response.
Some senators are apparently unwilling to trust that Barr will do right by Congress and the American people when it comes to the findings of Mueller’s Russia investigation:
On Monday, Sens. Richard J. Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill to guarantee that every special-counsel report would be released directly to Congress and the public, effectively taking out the attorney general as middleman.
“A report would be required whenever a Special Counsel finishes the investigation, is fired, or resigns, assuring that the results cannot be sealed or selectively censored,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “The public has a right and need to know the facts of such betrayals of public trust.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Barr’s nomination Tuesday, but the vote was delayed until February 7 due to Democrats’ concerns over his positions on the Mueller probe.
Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared to agree with at least one Democratic concern: If Barr believes a sitting president cannot be indicted or prosecuted, Trump could be omitted from the report altogether, even if Mueller finds disconcerting information.
“If you agree you can’t indict the president, it’s probably not a good reason not to share with us the derogatory information,” Graham said, promising to pursue Barr on that point. He also pledged to ask Barr whether he would let Trump claim executive privilege to muzzle portions of the report.