Se­nate com­mit­tee puts off vote on Barr

Dems want to know how nom­i­nee plans to over­see Rus­sia in­quiry

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Bart Jansen

WASH­ING­TON – Se­nate Democrats de­layed a Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee vote Tues­day un­til next week on Wil­liam Barr’s nom­i­na­tion to be­come at­tor­ney gen­eral, so they could gather more in­for­ma­tion about how he planned to over­see the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

The com­mit­tee chair­man, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., said Democrats’ had le­git­i­mate ques­tions about whether

Barr’s broad views of pres­i­den­tial power would lead to his keep­ing parts of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s fi­nal re­port se­cret.

The de­lay is rel­a­tively rou­tine for nom­i­nees, and Gra­ham still ex­pects Barr to be con­firmed. The com­mit­tee sched­uled the vote for Feb. 7.

“I urged this pres­i­dent to pick (Barr) be­cause I think he’s a steady hand when we need one,” Gra­ham said.

Barr told sen­a­tors he would re­lease as much de­tail as pos­si­ble about Mueller’s find­ings. But he also cited a Jus­tice De­part­ment pol­icy to avoid pub­lish­ing deroga­tory in­for­ma­tion about peo­ple who aren’t charged crim­i­nally. The de­part­ment’s Of­fice of Le­gal Coun­sel has an opin­ion that a sit­ting pres­i­dent can’t be in­dicted, and Democrats wor­ried that the com­bi­na­tion of those two things could lead Barr to keep con­fi­den­tial parts of the re­port deal­ing with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“We’re both lawyers, and we know there are weasel words that can be put into sen­tences,” said Sen. Shel­don White­house, D-R.I. “The ques­tion of what trans­parency is con­sis­tent with the law is a gi­nor­mous loop­hole in his trans­parency pledge.”

Gra­ham said White­house raised good points and said he would ask Barr about those is­sues.

Wil­liam Barr

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