The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday that President Trump’s attorney general nominee, William Barr, assured her in private that he won’t interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said those same guarantees need to be made on the public record.
“I don’t take to the bank anything unless it is in the public sector and everyone can hear, and it’s on the record,” she told reporters after a brief meeting with Mr. Barr.
“The big question on my mind is ‘Will he leave Mueller alone?’ ” she said. “That means no interference, not budget control, no stoppage, nothing. And that is only going to get answered well in the public.”
“Private meetings, in my book, are never a substitution for the record,” Ms. Feinstein added.
Democrats intend to grill Mr. Barr over his views on the Mueller probe during next week’s hearings. Specifically, they intend to focus on a memo he sent to Justice Department officials arguing that Mr. Mueller’s probe into obstruction of justice was “fatally misconceived.”
Last month, Ms. Feinstein sent Mr. Barr a letter with a list of questions about the memo. She told reporters she didn’t ask the attorney general nominee about the letter during their private meeting, but “I will in public.”
If Mr. Barr is confirmed, he would oversee the Mueller investigation, giving him the authority to approve subpoenas and indictments. The probe is currently overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is reportedly leaving the Justice Department after Mr. Barr is confirmed.
Mr. Barr met with both Democratic and Republican senators Thursday, a routine practice for Cabinet nominees.
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