Mueller Russia inquiry is no witch hunt, claims Trump attorney-general nominee

Democrats suggested a critical 20-page memo that Mr Barr wrote previous year to the justice department was a "job interview" to impress Mr Trump.

Moreover, Barr said, he was not serving as a sock puppet for the administration or anyone else to surface someone else's counterarguments against Mueller or the Justice Department.

"I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president". "I'm in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences".

His prospective boss may not be a fan of the Robert Mueller investigation, but Attorney General nominee William Barr promises that he won't interfere with it. He heaped praise on Mueller and said it would be hard to imagine a situation arising in which he would fire Mueller for cause.

Barr would oversee the final stages of the investigation.

"We've got a lot of problems at the Department of Justice", Graham said. "I'm going to do what I think is right".

"On my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work", Barr said.

Barr also said "it is vitally important" that Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation and that Congress and the public should learn the results.

Barr is expected to win confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate to serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer, which would put him in charge of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion between Moscow and Trump's campaign. Lawmakers are questioning his views on the Special Counsel's Russian Federation investigation, whether a sitting president can be indicted, and other matters.

Barr - who refers to Mueller as "Bob" and describes their longtime friendship - can expect a host of questions from Democrats who have said they will press him under oath to commit to not shrinking Mueller's budget, limiting his authority or impairing his ability to seek subpoenas or bring charges. Rosenstein did not respond and was "sphinx-like", Barr recalled.

Democrats - and perhaps Republicans - are sure to have questions about Barr's approach to Mueller, especially since Barr has been critical of the Mueller probe in the past. "My memo was narrow in scope, explaining my thinking on a specific obstruction-of-justice theory under a single statute that I thought, based on media reports, the Special Counsel might be considering", he noted.

Mr Barr stopped short of promising to release Mr Mueller's report.

In the remarks, Mr. Barr acknowledges that will provide "as much transparency" as he can under the law. The document sparked widespread concern among minority Democrats in the Senate, who have long feared Trump intends to shut down the probe. It is not clear how much of the investigation will be left by then.

Barr would replace acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who declined to recuse himself from the investigation.

Key Democrats have said they're especially skeptical about Barr because he sent an unsolicited letter to the Justice Department in June indicating a broad interpretation of presidential powers and asserting that Mueller's inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice is "fatally misconceived". He said presidents can not be criminally investigated for actions they are permitted to take under the Constitution, such as firing officials who work for them, just because of a subjective determination that they may have had a corrupt state of mind.

Barr said he agreed with Mueller's charge that Russian entities interfered in the election, or at least tried to do so.

  • Joey Payne